my dysfunctional company will give me a free day off every week if I stay several more years

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I work for a small, successful, very dysfunctional business. My manager, “April,” is a quick-thinking but naive 30-year-old who is clearly enmeshed in a codependent relationship with the 60-year-old owner, “John,” who loves traveling. She shares an office with him and frequently travels with him. They often invite staff along on these trips, which is hard on those of us who stay behind to work.

I am one of two lower-level managers; I supervise the admin group and “June” supervises sales. April and June are friends, and June makes $2/hour more than me. While June has a lot of experience in our industry, she is an emotionally immature alcoholic who frequently complains that she can’t handle the stress of her job. After June left to have kids, April lured her back by offering her a deal: work for four days, get paid for five. April said this was a reward for 15 years with the company. Last year, when April was approaching her own 10-year mark, she changed the rules so this “perk” applied at 10 years. This way, April could also work a four-day week and get paid for five days. At that point I had been with the company for seven years, so she came up with a new reward that would apply to me: a paid half-day off per week for five years’ service, which will become a full paid day off when I reach 10 years. These “perks” will apply to all full-time staff. While I questioned how this could possibly work, she said it was about retaining staff and valuing work-life balance.

Now, one of my key employees has reached his five-year mark and also gets a paid half-day off, and scheduling is getting tricky. I am particularly concerned about the employees who have to cover off for us when we’re not there. Plus, my pay rate has plateaued, and I’d like to make more money. I’ve worked hard over the years to be an effective manager and to improve the company, and April recognizes this. In fact, she says privately to me that it’s clear June is not a great manager, that staff come to me with problems because June just freaks out over the stress, and that I’m the one she leans on to help her run the company. This is true in part because April is rarely there. When she’s in the office, she’s usually socializing with staff or organizing her and John’s leisure activities.

Yesterday I suggested to April that we should offer the option of working a full 5-day week at the 4 or 4.5 day pay rate (a 10%-20% raise). I suggested this on behalf of another employee who confided in me that April’s “perk” won’t work for her because she’ll never be able to get her job done in 4.5 days and will just end up working late every night. April refused because, she said, the company can’t afford it.

My morale has crashed. I’ve looked online and I know there are jobs out there that pay more, and that I’m qualified for … but I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed. I’ve convinced April that we need to hire more people. But I feel trapped. Should I keep pushing for it? Ask for a pay increase to match June’s? Tell her that I’m burning out, and ask what the company can do for me? Or just wait two more years, then enjoy my 4-day week at my current pay? Would it be crazy to walk away from that?

I’m not clear on why you’re committed to staying, given how dysfunctional this business sounds. My quick advice is to reconsider that stance!

But readers, what’s your advice?

{ 393 comments… read them below }

          1. Oh no*

            Run don’t walk. This is just crazy. Btw they need you more than you need them and another employer would be happy to have you.

        1. Spooky*

          It sounds like you feel a lot of loyalty towards those that work under you and they are the reason why you are considering staying. However, you have done all you can to help them and fulfilled your duty of being a good supervisor. You’ve listened you their concerns and advocated for them but your hands are tied by management above you. My guess is that if you stick it out in order to earn this perk, you won’t actually get to enjoy it because like you brought up, who is going to pick up the slack while you’re out? Guessing from your character, I don’t think you’d enjoy that day off while your staff suffers. The best thing you can do for you and your staff is to leave. When you’ve got your next job secured, be sure to tell the company and your staff exactly why you are leaving. Once you leave, hopefully that will be the encouragement your staff need to leave this dysfunctional company as well since I doubt upper management will change. Be sure your staff knows you’ll support their future endeavors by providing letters of recommendation, sharing job opportunities, etc.

          1. Not Your Sweetheart*

            I agree. Also, once OP leaves, her reports and coworkers might leave that bee infested nest too. OP: leave and set a good example for your team!

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Exactly. I know you don’t want to leave your team in the lurch, but actually, THIS IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM
          Flee! And read all of AAM’s advice for detoxifying yourself after working in an unbee-lievably toxic situation for so long

          1. Office Hamster*

            Agreed, and if you leave, you’ll show your team they can too. Trying to hold it all together is just keeping everyone in the toxic mess for longer.

            If you still feel bad, why not start coaching and supporting your team in the direction of finding new opportunities? (Obviously proceed with caution there lest April catch wind.)

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              “Agreed, and if you leave, you’ll show your team they can too. Trying to hold it all together is just keeping everyone in the toxic mess for longer.”


              OP, it’s time to let the consequences of incompetence fall on the owners of the company. When you tell your team about you leaving, offer to give them good references if they decide to move on as well.

              1. RVA Cat*

                All of this, plus when you leave, you can give your team great references so they can get out.

                Best case scenario is if the OP joins a well-run, growing company and can hire them!

              2. GammaGirl1908*

                This! You are allowed and able to run screaming into the night. A day off is not worth this. There other jobs with sane people AND more money out there.

                Let the company bear the consequences of this incompetence.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  You are allowed and able to run screaming into the night.

                  And another AAM throw pillow is born.

              3. Lexie*

                OP leaving could also be a way out for the team. I was at work one day when a former coworker called to see if I knew anyone who was looking for the same basic job I was doing. My response was “me” and I ended up in a much better situation with no break in employment.

          2. Amaranth*

            Also, OP doesn’t sound like the kind of employee who will take that 4 day work week and just let projects sit around, so they will end up working late like the other employees and so will really have no supposed compensation for sticking out this misery. I’m baffled that they won’t pay current employees more but have been convinced to hire more people…which ends up usually costing more with benefits, etc.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yeah, hiring new employees to cover the extra work left by giving some people a 4-day week is an extremely silly way to deal with this if you could just do a 10-20% raise instead. Wildly more expensive!!!

        2. Cat Tree*

          Yes. OP, if you’re interested in doing volunteer work or donating to charity, there are many reputable organizations to do that with great benefit to the recipients. Work is not one of those places. You are subsidizing the owner and this company by making less than you are worth. I get it that you feel a personal connection to your employees, but you are not their parent and they are presumably all adults. Instead, take the job with higher pay and donate the difference to people who need the help more.

      1. RJ*

        Get a new job, OP.
        I’m assuming you don’t want to leave your admin group out of loyalty to your team rather than the company – but they can get new jobs too.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Especially since your whole admin group can all quit on their own for greener pastures, your loyalty should be to yourself.

          1. what's in a name*

            Why stay and suffer when you can leave and get more pay and potentially better perks elsewhere.
            Having extraone off is great, if you’re being paid a decent wage, which you aren’t. B’ll are rising each year and time off at a same rate won’t help that, whereas moving to a bewe paid job will. They may offer a 4 day week for better pay elsewhere andok would be more fulfilled in your work.
            You’re also clearly a better manager but are not being paid what you should, and someone incompetent is being paid better.
            Don’t stay and don’t feel obliged to because of staffing issues.
            You are not paid to stress about that, leave it to the ones who are.

        2. RJ*

          This is a different RJ who concurs with the first RJ. I get the loyalty and it’s a shame that your firm isn’t valuing it as much as you are. Make your exit plan and make like a bee.

      2. Olivia Mansfield*

        Yeah, I felt trapped at an old job, and I commented to one of my coworkers that, “The only way I’m ever going to get out of here is to quit or die” (and at the time both options seemed equally feasible to me). She responded, “Well, that’s the only way anyone ever gets out of anything, isn’t it?” and for some reason that really resonated with me at the time. It made me realize, OH — I can QUIT!

        When you feel stuck and like you can’t quit, it really does feel like you don’t have any options, but once you quit and look back from a distance, it seems like it should have been so easy and obvious.

        tl;dr It gets better once you quit.

        1. Rainy*

          “The trouble with oaths of the form, death before dishonor, is that eventually, given enough time and abrasion, they separate the world into two sorts of people: the dead, and the forsworn.”

          1. Curious*

            While I agree with the sentiment, I wouldn’t recommend taking employment with the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet …

              1. Lenora Rose*

                I dunno. the boss is a total maniac but he does seem to try his damnedest to get everyone back if at all possible.

                1. Curious*

                  I must admit, employer-paid cryo-revival is an important fringe benefit in that line of work …

                2. kicking-k*

                  There are upsides but I think it would be far, far too stressful for me. I’d be astonished if Vicky Bone didn’t muster out after that trip to Earth, given the “creative” things Miles asked her to do with the fleet finances. But I bet Miles wrote her a stunning reference.

        2. Read and Find Out*

          On Halloween a few years ago, I was crying on my friend’s couch while she alternated between managing my feelings about work and handing out candy to adorable kids, something we’d always enjoyed doing. I was really upset over something that had happened at work, just a couple of months into my new role. Finally she said, ‘why don’t you just quit?’ and I said ‘I can’t’ They need me! and she replied, ‘yes, yes, you really can. They got on before you and will again after you. Quit.’

          I told her I would think about it, but actually once it penetrated that I COULD quit, that it was really okay–I can’t tell you how relieved I felt. I was able to stop crying, enjoy the holiday, and two months later I resigned my position. One of the best decisions I ever made.

          OP, you can actually quit. I know it feels like you can’t, like people are relying on you, but their world will not end if you move on somewhere else. You deserve better, and better is within your grasp. Take it.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            Semi-related: this is also why relationship advice columnists are quick to leap to telling people to DTMFA. It’s like, “Are you aware that you don’t HAVE to keep dating this loser who is making you miserable and driving you to write five-page missives to advice columnists? You are allowed to break up!”

            1. SeluciaMD*

              And you don’t need to present a thesis paper of reasons that the world will judge acceptable before you do! You can go because you want to go. It’s the only reason you need – in both of these situations. There’s no burden of proof required before quitting or leaving any kind of toxic relationship (which is what this is).

              Also, OP has it occurred to you that maybe your staff – who you clearly respect and care about – are staying because *they* don’t want to abandon *you* in the same way you think you can’t leave because *you* don’t want to abandon *them*? If you knew that, would you want them to stay for your benefit or would you encourage them to run away from this terrible, dysfunctional company and towards something better and brighter? I bet they’d say the same about you.

              Think of it this way: right now you are all staying in a burning house because no one wants to abandon anyone else when the smart thing to do is get everyone up on their feet and very expediently head to the nearest exit and GET THE HELL OUT. Don’t die together when you can all live – and thrive – if you get out!!!

              1. kicking-k*

                I recently learned about the Abilene Paradox (Wikipedia explains it well) which is when a whole group of people end up doing something not a one of them wants, because they all think the others want it and don’t want to rock the boat.

                It seems applicable to a vast array of situations relating to work, and this is one.

              2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

                I’ve been in the situation you describe. A formerly decent workplace had turned into a dumpster fire. I was assistant manager, and my great-grand-boss, then grand-boss, then boss all resigned within the span of a couple of months. I was desperately trying to keep things running for my team, but burning out fast. When I also turned in my resignation, the company ended up negotiating at the 11th hour that they’d give me a severance payout if I delayed my departure for 3 months. I agreed. One of my team later revealed that she had an offer in hand to get out, but turned it down when she found out I was staying a little longer. I was explicit after that that they all needed to look out for their own best interests, and if that meant leaving, then I would fully support them. They still stuck it out with me and all bar one ended up leaving not too long after my departure.

            2. myswtghst*

              Exactly. In both romantic and employment relationships, it is okay to walk away for whatever reason you deem “good enough”. It’s worth considering the repercussions of how you do it so you don’t blow up a bridge you could have left barely singed, but that doesn’t mean you don’t do it at all.

            3. Lirael*

              I literally realised in one weekend, a few years ago, that I didn’t have to accept the (now ex!!!!) husband’s mandate that everything wrong in our marriage was My Fault and I got to just LEAVE instead. I didn’t actually leave for another 6 months, but that was just me making sure I would be safe. (I was/am, but I don’t regret making sure my ducks were in a row.) Sometimes you just need to hear it at the right moment and it filters in, you know?

          2. UShoe*


            The more dysfunctional a workplace is, the more the people who can see the dysfunction band together to try and keep themselves sane within it. But you can leave, you can do better, you can model for the other people who “need” you that they can get out too. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help anyone else!

          3. Good Vibes Steve*

            I was in a mindset like this a few years ago at a previous job. Someone told me “no one of truly irreplaceable” (in a “you’re not THAT special” kind of way) and it hurt my ego – I realised after a while I’d put a lot of my self-worth in the false knowledge that I was so critical at work. The ego re-adjustment hurt at first, but in the long run it made me a lot happier.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Goodness, yes. Get out, OP. This is way more shenanigans than you should have to deal with. Barring geographical quirks, you should have very little trouble finding a management job elsewhere.

      (I have suspicions about April and John, but they’re orthogonal to the problem, so I’ll not be — ahem — explicit about them.)

      As Alison often says, how your group gets along after you leave is… not actually your problem. I understand your care for them, but I think a better way to actualize it is to get a new job, then quietly leave your contact info with them (or a LinkedIn connection or whatever) and promise them all glowing recommendations should they decide to search also. In this market, you might even be able to poach some of them into your new employer’s workforce.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I think the proper geometric term is horizontal, but even if they are off studying UFOs or training to be the Mongolia’s Next Top Throat Singer, they are not running a company. They are having their own party and the staff is funding it. They can’t afford to pay more money, so they will give you time off.
          As the coworker you mention explained: we will pay you the same money to do the same work in fewer hours. Well, not fewer, just different hours.
          Seven years, OP.
          Your office sucks and isn’t going to change.
          Good luck.
          Hit us with an update next month with your new job. Cuz you can find one.

          1. autumnal*

            And the proper statistics phrase for statistically independent is orthogonal. Ain’t words a wonder?

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              I was making a very off-color and apparently very unsuccessful geometry joke referencing to the boss and manager being off somewhere in a horizontal position. Oh well. Some days I’m clever.

              1. Amaranth*

                I got it. But then I barely passed geometry. I kept asking the teacher WHY the theorems worked, I didn’t want to just memorize.

          2. KateM*

            Geometric term would be “perpendicular”. “Horizontal” would be perpendicular to “vertical”.

      1. Venus*

        I think it’s also important to point out that the good people in the group won’t view OP’s departure as a lack of loyalty to them. I learned this when I worked for a really bad senior manager, and I felt awful when I told my manager that I had found something else. I felt so guilty because I thought he would be sad, and he was the best part of that job. In the end he was so happy for me, and supported my departure. Our senior manager asked if I could help out a bit after I left (paid), and I was going to do it out of guilt but again this manager told me it was a big mistake and to walk away. He was right about everything.

        A good manager like OP will feel guilt at leaving for better opportunities when they have been protecting their employees from dysfunction for so long. But the good employees know this, and the best thing OP can do is encourage them to apply elsewhere and give a detailed reference as many times as they need it.

        In the end I helped my manager too, as I spoke with HR before I left and the senior manager was moved to project management with no direct reports shortly after this. I know that I wasn’t the only complaint, but all my guilt disappeared when I spoke with them and they took me seriously.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        “Orthogonal to the problem” is brilliant and if this comments section allowed images to be posted, right here is where I’d be inserting my traditional Patrick Stewart collecting your (meme, delightful turn of phrase, etc) gif.

        Pure gold.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Exactly how I would have worded it. Run away! Run away!

      You are doing your team a disservice by staying — you are modeling that acquiescing to such insanity is somehow okay and something that your team should do. Instead you should quit and show your team how to find the door.

      1. it's just the frame of mind*

        Well…that kind of modeling is a bit much to ask of someone. These are all adults working here; they all have to decide for themselves what works for them.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Agreed. If OP leaves for another job, s/he can help those left behind find better opportunities. But one person quitting isn’t going to inspire others who don’t think that leaving is an option. If OP leaves for a better job, that would be more effective.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            Sometimes it takes one person to burst the dam. Everyone sees Mary leaving for greener pastures and they realize that it’s not an insurmountable thing to do.

            1. Rosie*

              Agreed, I’ve been the first one to leave a toxic workplace before and within 6 months my entire team had left too, including people who’d been there way longer than I had. People feel weird loyalty to employers (and definitely feel guilty leaving their team) and hold onto hope that things will improve so that shift in dynamic of one person leaving can be enough to have the rest be like oh yeah no we’re done with this too.

        2. NotJane*

          I think Lady’s comment was more a response to OP saying that she can’t leave her admin group and thus feels trapped, but that OP’s feelings of guilt and obligation are perhaps misplaced in this case (although totally understandable), because she’s able to make this dysfunctional workplace somewhat tolerable and, as a result, enabling them to stay mired in this insanity. And I think this is the “disservice” and “modeling” that Lady was talking about. By staying, OP could be unintentionally normalizing the culture of this office for her reports.

          I mean, how many posts have we seen from people who have stayed in their dysfunctional workplaces – often for similarly noble reasons – only to find that it’s totally warped their sense of what’s “normal” in the workplace? This can be especially problematic for people just entering the workforce – recent grads, for example, and since OP manages the admins, some of her reports could be in this category – who likely don’t have the perspective or experience necessary to know what a functional workplace *should* look like.

          It’s the old the “frog in the pot” analogy – everything seems fine and tolerable until you’re suddenly being boiled alive (and OP sounds like she’s reaching that point). So OP can either stay and slowly simmer along with her team, or she can jump ship, which may leave her employees temporarily feeling the heat, but may ultimately show them that escape is possible and motivate them to plan their own exits.

    3. LTR/FTP*

      Yes. Leave. I know it sounds disloyal to your team, but that is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Get out. They will follow suit if they don’t like being there without you. It’s a fantastic time to be looking for a new job — go find one that pays you a ton more and isn’t dysfunctional.

    4. OhNoYouDidn't*

      Agreed. You’re not responsible for the dysfunction and are not obligated to continue subjecting yourself to it. You admin staff will either figure it out, or they will also leave for better situations. It sounds like John is not doing his job, nor will he until he starts to feel the pain. Leave and don’t look back. Find someone who really appreciates your abilities and is willing to appropriately compensate you for them. You deserve nothing less.

      1. Yikes*

        This is a delightful turn of phrase! Run is the thing to do even if “stop, drop, and roll” would be more effective in this case…

    5. Harper the Other One*

      Yep, this.

      OP, you ask if you should “just wait two more years, then enjoy my 4-day week at my current pay” – but you’re not enjoying your work now, and you’ll enjoy it even less as scheduling gets tighter and especially if you get to your 10-year make and realize that your 4-day week is not possible with your workload.

      The admin team will decide for themselves if this environment works for them or not. You sound like a good supervisor and you deserve to be working in a place where you’re not stressed and burning out.

      1. green beans*

        Last summer, we were offered the great benefit of “summer Fridays” – after much discussion and concern, leadership had decided we could, if we wanted, work 40 hrs M-Th and take Fridays off. That is, as long as someone from each department was always working on Friday (we had multiple one-person departments) AND we actually had 40 hrs’ worth of work to do M-Th and weren’t just sitting around an extra two hours a day twiddling our thumbs to get Friday off. (The only part I’m paraphrasing is the “twiddling our thumbs” – that’s pretty much exactly what was told to us.)

        I was a one-person department averaging 50 hr workweeks, with a major project due, and many other people were in similar positions. Out of 25 people offered this ‘perk’, only one person took occasional advantage of it.

        1. KRM*

          It’s a good perk IF you aren’t overloaded! And also if you do a “one extra hour a day and either half day every Friday or E/O Friday off”. Our shipping/receiving that HAD to have coverage swapped Fridays off, and others could choose at will. However, we had a good balance in the organization and that’s why it worked. If you’re already overworked, it’s basically lip service to say “hey look at this great perk we offer” when nobody can actually take advantage.

    6. Goldenrod*

      Exactly!! Leave!! Leave, leave!

      As someone who debated for a long time whether or not to leave a toxic job – once I did, I was SOOOO glad I did. Now is the time! There has never been a better time to find a new job, employers are desperate and not getting applicants (I recently worked in HR, so I know this firsthand).

      LEAVE and be happy! :)

    7. 3DogNight*

      I feel stupid for asking, but…I’ve seen the office full of bees reference before, but I’m not clear if it’s just a saying, or is there a story behind it?

      1. Brightwanderer*

        It’s a reference to Captain Awkward, where it caught on as a way of referring to a particularly dysfunctional household or relationship – “this house is full of evil bees”.

      2. Kaiko*

        That particular tangent also referenced Arrested Development, which had a gag about mishearing beads as bees.

  1. I'm Fresh Cut Grass!*

    It sounds like that perk probably isn’t enough to offset all the downsides. Your pay having plateaued isn’t great either. It’s a job seeker’s market right now, I suggest you start looking and leave once you find a better job.

    1. Atlantic Toast Conference*

      That was my thought too— this is a GREAT time to be looking for a new job! If it were me, I’d at least be putting out some feelers (if not full-tilt job searching). Good luck, OP!

    2. Purely Allegorical*

      My thought exactly. There is NOTHING to lose by looking around and doing some interviews — if it makes you nervous to think about leaving, just think of it as intel-gathering. Then if you get an offer that actually is very good, you can reassess leaving then. You’re just giving yourself options.

      One thing to consider — the rules around these ‘perks’ keep changing. It sounds just as likely that April could change the rules again right when you’re supposed to hit your 10-year mark. The fact that she’s head-in-the-sand about the impact of all these outages on the company suggests that there is going to be a Large Reckoning at some point in the next few years that challenges the viability of the business. It seems likely that reckoning could coincide with your 10-year perk mark.

      All that to say, I don’t think this perk is actually sustainable, and you’ll be the one who gets screwed and then asked to “understand” and “commit to the company” and “you don’t want us to fail, do you”. I’d get out and find something more stable while the job market is hot.

      1. Blink*

        Purely Allegorical is 100% right about this not being sustainable. Either they’ll formally remove it for your division, or it will be pragmatically unworkable and, like you’ll work a five day week for most of the year.

        It sucks to leave your team behind, especially when you know that you won’t be leaving them in good hands. But look at it like this: if one of your reports came to you and said she’d been offered a new, better paying job that she was excited about, but she was going to turn them down because she felt bad about leaving you, you’d push her to spread her wings, right?

        This is a pretty good candidate market right now, and who knows what it will look like in two years. Update your CV, start applying for anything that looks interesting and get some interview experience under your belt. Then when the right job comes around, nail the interview, wave goodbye to your boss (and decline the 4-day week she’ll offer you to try and keep you) and buy yourself something indulgent with your first paycheque.

        I’m rooting for you!

      2. Cascadia*

        Yes, the changing rules of the perks is very disconcerting! I would not stay in this dysfunctional low-paying job for 3 more years because of this supposed 4-day work week perk. I question whether it will ever happen. Plus, if the company can’t afford to pay a few people more, then why would they be able to hire more people to help with the workload? I’m all for doing more work, but this sounds like a very unsustainable company, and given it’s precarious and ever-changing nature, I would not stay holding out hope for this perk.

        1. Smuckers*

          They’ve already demonstrated that they’ll change the perks based on favoritism. Plus, how solvent can a company be with a hands-off owner who apparently uses the company to fund his travel and all of this disfunction? Get out while it’s a job seekers market and never look back!

          1. Smuckers*

            Forgot to say: the change in perks + my concerns about your company’s future make me seriously doubt that you’ll ever get that perk.

            1. KRM*

              Exactly. It’s one thing if you’re a small company and think “oh man we have our first employees to hit 5/10 years, we should do something to reward them!!”. Totally another to be like “oh I’m approaching 5 years and I want X so I’ll just give it to myself, and I guess others? If I have to?”

      3. Gothic Bee*

        I mean, as far as the perk goes, I think it could be great, and there are places that have switched to 4-day work weeks. But they need to actually hire more people if this is going to be sustainable. Because you can’t just work 4.5 or 4 days and get the same amount of work done every week unless you already have a decent amount of downtime.

        But the fact that the perks have been employed kind of on a whim is definitely a red flag (along with everything else).

      4. Amaranth*

        I’m somewhat curious how often April takes that ‘free day’ against a weekend, or if it really just applies as often and whenever April wants a break.

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      You’re also underpaid (and if your pay has truly plateaued, you’re losing money each year). So you probably could actually go and find a 4-day job that pays as much or better than your current position, without all the ridiculous chaos! Or if that’s not as much of a perk for you, you definitely can find a 5-day job that pays significantly more. If your team leaves after you do, you’ll be doing them a favor.

  2. lunchtime caller*

    This reader would just like to second the “get a new job” thing. They don’t intend to pay you more, they don’t intend to hire more people, the company may not even exist long enough to get you that extra day off, which you will likely spend sitting at home stressing about how you don’t have enough money. Your staff are all adults, they can get new jobs too and let these three travel the world to their heart’s content. Get out now!

    1. Decima Dewey*

      What lunchtime caller said. This so-called perk is going to vanish into the ether when enough people qualify for it by current rules. But April and those above her will be grandfathered in. And that’s if this supposedly successful company stays in business. Which I doubt.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. This feels like April will always find an excuse to do what makes her happy and will always find a way to shove off more work on you (especially if she doesn’t need to pay you more)

    2. ples*

      Yes! This worker sounds co-dependant on her job/team a bit.t

      Why would you not leave when they won’t do what’s right for you? You are directly impacting your monthly budget and even retirement by not going after a job that suits you better. You should not give that power to a company.

  3. Roscoe*

    No, its not crazy to walk away. This is something you’d have to wait 2 more years for. THat is a LONG time to deal with this type of dysfunction. If this was “In 2 years I’ll retire with great pension” I’d have a different take. But its 2 years, then you are still dealing with a crappy situation 4 days a week.

    Its nice that you are this loyal to your coworkers, but you should probably look out for what is best for you. Because they likely aren’t going to pass up a better offer because it will make your life easier, so you shouldn’t either. And any rational person will understand that.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If this was “In 2 years I’ll retire with great pension” I’d have a different take.

      I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t trust this business has described to stay in business to pay out the pension.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I know about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. I think it makes Social Security look sound in comparison, but I suppose it’s better than nothing until it completely collapses.

    2. anonymouse*

      I could see, “in two years, I’ll retire FULL STOP.”
      If OP was over 62, this job with no raises (or leadership) is a place to pay into a 401k and wait for his/her milestone birthday.
      And speaking as someone in the later years of working, if this were my workplace, I wouldn’t be living and dying with this lunacy. I know when things can’t be fixed. I’m too old and cynical to try anyway.
      I’d do my 4.5 days making sure that my staff got the advantage of this asinine perk.
      Are they going to fire me? By they time April and John get around to it, it would probably be the time I was retiring anyway.

    3. Elsajeni*

      Yes, this is the thing that really pushes me toward “LEAVE” — it’s not even “if I stick it out for two more years, I can get out of here with [a big bundle of cash/a great pension/a huge achievement on my resume/whatever]”. It’s “if I stick it out for two more years, I can continue working here at this job that makes me miserable, only for 4 hours less per week!” Which, you know… fewer hours at a job you hate is better than more hours at a job you hate, for sure. But if you leave now, you can have thirty-six fewer hours per week that you have to be at this job.

  4. JP*

    An extra day off a week isn’t going to do much to alleviate the mental effects of burnout, feeling trapped, and just generally unhappy and frustrated. It also doesn’t sound like it’s a 100% sure thing that this perk will be around in two years. Maybe they’ll start to see the negative effects caused by staffing issues and change their policy.
    I’d rather work somewhere five days a week and not hate my life.

    1. Jake*

      I worked a place where it was 7 12s for 4 months a year, 5 10s for 4 months a year and 4 10s for 4 months a year. That extra day off was life changing. I can’t speak for the OP, but in my experience, an extra day off every week was a 100% game changer, and that was even with 10 hour days.

      1. Purple Cat*

        It sounds like what OP’s office is “offering” though is 4-days/8 hrs with a day truly off, that we all know wouldn’t actually be off. April’s kicking back with her feet off because OP is there to do the work for her. OP won’t have that luxury.

        1. Jake*

          Agreed. My example is not to change OP’s mind, simply to say that an extra day off a week can help alleviate the mental effects of burnout, etc.

          The solution to this situation is the same as what Alison said, leave now.

      2. Ismonie*

        Was your company good about changing your workload so the extra day off actually meant you had less work? I’m guessing yes in your case, and I’m guessing no in hers.

        1. Jake*

          Yes. In fact during 4 10s I was bored some of the time.

          During 7 12s there was more work than I could possibly get done.

          The 5 10s stretch was the only time when our hours matched our workload.

          That is the challenge with seasonal work.

      3. anonymouse*

        I have a buddy who does that. He loves it. They adapted the workplace to 10 hour days, 4 days a week.
        My sister had a 3.5 day work week for 20 years. She loved it.
        Because they, like you, had a functional schedule. This would be awesome if the place wasn’t run by loons.
        OP is getting “just take friday afternoon off, Bob, Sue and Mike. Sally and Kate will take all day Friday.”
        and whoever is left will do the work – in addition to their work.
        or the day off people are putting in unpaid hours to get the work done for some nominal day off.

        1. STG*

          Best schedule I ever had was 4 10 hour shifts with a day off in the middle. So, Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri. I called it the doughnut schedule. That break in the middle of the week was awesome.

          It’s been 20 years and I STILL miss it.

            1. STG*

              Right? It was almost like working a part time job. I always knew I had a day off coming every couple days.

          1. anonymouse*

            My very first “full time” job was part time like that. I worked 8-5 on m, t, w, off thursday, powered through friday.
            Took about a month to get used to it but then just became my thing. It was great having that week day to do stuff.

          2. Anon Y Mouse*

            I am trying to organise this right now (the doughnut schedule). My boss has agreed in principle.

            Having been partially furloughed for part of lockdown, I was surprised how much work I still got done in slightly fewer hours. With high-focus work, longer hours can mean diminishing returns. I hope I’ll be more present during my actual working time, and less stressed and tired.

      4. Xenia*

        Public accounting by any chance?

        In any case, it sounds like your company was good about matching Amount of work with when the days off were, which is a critical thing missing in what OP describes.

    2. fiona the baby hippo*

      The LW also mentioned that their salary has plateaued, I bet working 5 days /week is going to feel a LOT different long term if they’re being fairly compensated.

  5. Loves libraries*

    I’m picturing Gandalf on the bridge at Khazad-dum saying “fly you fools”

    OP, get out now

    1. Hannah Lee*


      Everything about this situation is making me thing “get out! get out now!”

      From the “party of 2” whatever is going on in the executive suite and on those trips … which sometimes include other employees, to the fluid at best ephemeral to non-existent at worst benefit policies (can we even call them policies if they keep shifting based on the whims /convenience of one manager?) to the weird staffing approach of trying to keep not just staffing levels fixed aka stagnant but wanting the same bodies to stay in the same seats for years, to the hint of favoritism from the manager.

      If there were a level above April and the owner, I’d be even more wary about this, because all of April’s ‘management’ moves seem to be things that could fly under the radar in any official reporting … flexible work schedules or the promise of future flexible work schedules won’t show up on any financial statements, but the thing April’s resistent to, actual changes in pay rates, would. (and now I’m curious if there is some silent partner/stakeholder who gets a K1 or other financial statement from this place, or a note holder/banker John has a loan with who he wants think everything is status quo humming along and doesn’t want to invite questions by changing something on paper)

      But even without that consideration, April and John’s approach seems to be maximizing *their* enjoyment of the now and minimizing *their* need to actually manage and do anything. But there is nothing in it, really, for LW and their staff, and potentially a lot of disappointment if they rely on April’s promises. Sure, it’s a job and a paycheck … but there are other, better jobs and paychecks out there to be had.

      LW, it’s time to polish up your resume and start looking.

      This seems like one of those workplaces which many run okay, or even be kind of fun … for a while, while the management personalities are in synch/enmeshed. But when the wheels come off, it is NOT going to be pretty.

  6. AVP*

    Omigosh, leave now, leave now, go get a higher paid job elsewhere!

    Also, whatever is going on with April and John bodes is bad news and will end badly.

      1. AVP*

        same! I mean, if they’re both single, it could just be a regular above-board relationship? Still terrible in this situation!

        1. Jay Gobbo*

          Honestly it could be anything. They could have other partners *and* be sleeping with each other — or April could just be really into ~the mission~ of the company or whatever and drinking the koolaid. It sounds like it gets her a lot of perks, so whether there’s sex involved or not seems irrelevant.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I almost prefer the fanfic where they categorically have no romantic interest in each other and it’s just “Hey, you know what would be great? Hawaii!” and they go to research The Things With The Mission on Oahu.

  7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    These people have no idea how to run a business.

    Step out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.

  8. Glomarization, Esq.*

    A. B. L. … Always Be Looking.

    Keep your LinkedIn and resume updated (revisit them once a month or so) and apply for interesting looking jobs as they come into your orbit. You don’t even have to make any decision right now about whether to stay or leave. Wait until you have an offer!

    And don’t kid yourself that your co-workers are staying for any altruistic reason. If they had better offers, they’d go, to. Don’t stay for their sake. Take care of yourself.

  9. Velawciraptor*

    The only advice I can give is run far, run fast. And don’t begrudge any members of your team who choose to do the same because they don’t want to go down with the dysfunctional ship. You’re more emotionally invested in this than the absentee owner of the company is, and that never ends well.

  10. Kowalski! Options!*

    Bail. NOW. Otherwise, it’s going to be an eternal game of takesies-backsies that will always be rigged against you.

    1. Anon for Today*

      This. Learned the very hard way last year.

      They will promise anything and everything until they have you in for that private meeting in the conference room…

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In my favorite example of this, they didn’t leave enough time between promising everything and that private meeting where they claw it back for the poster to say no to the other job offer. So she just told HR that her resignation was still a go and continued right on out the door.

  11. Chc34*

    Leave! Your admin group’s understafffing is not your problem or your responsibility. You cannot feel more loyalty to your company than they feel to you.

  12. awesome3*

    The goal posts seem to be moving at this company. What I’m worried about is what if you stay two more years, and then they say you are staying at your current pay rate and not letting you do 4 days a week? Is the 4 days a week thing in writing?

    1. AnonAgain*

      This was my thought. Administration changes, sees how ridiculous this all is and the “work for four get paid for five” disappears.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      Even if it were in writing – which I bet it isn’t – companies can always change policies and terms of employment.

  13. The Original K.*

    Leave. I don’t even know that I fully understand all the various pay configurations, but it doesn’t even really matter (especially since apparently people are working the same hours in 4 days instead of five). Leave. Your commitment to your team is admirable but it’s not worth this dysfunction. And you’re not making the money you want to make! I say again: leave.

    1. Saberise*

      It sounds like maybe not everyone had to work 40 hours in 4 days. It’s probably really dependent on the job. Sounds like April and June both spend plenty of time doing things other than working so doubtful they do those kind of hours.

  14. I'm A Little Teapot*

    You’re loyal to your admin group. That’s admirable. But the company owner should be fostering a better work environment for everyone, part of which includes appropriate staffing levels.

    Find a new job. Then tell all your staff that you’ll be available to give them references if they they decide that they would like to move on, give them a good contact email address for you that won’t disappear, and wish them the best.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      Adding to say you can have loyalty to your admin group that is loyalty to them as individuals. So get yourself a new job, and then help them get new jobs. Provide a fabulous reference for them! Help them network. If your new place has openings, send it to them.

      You have tried to make their work life better at the company where you are at and CAN’T. So make yours and then theirs better by leaving!

    2. calonkat*

      So much this. And keep in mind, if they see you staying out of loyalty to them, it might keep them there in loyalty to you. Whereas the company that is actually hiring you has no real loyalty to any of you!

      And I’d really give some thought to Hannah Lee’s comments above, she suggests other reasons you might want to plan a different employment future beyond this company.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes, agreed. Honestly, you leaving might be impetus for the people working below you in the org chart to also leave, which it sounds like would be better for them in the long run. And right now is a job-seeker’s market. This is a good time to be looking for a new job.

  15. Aspiring Great Manager*

    My question to you, OP, would be: Why are you intent on supporting a workplace that is intent in not supporting you? And: what do you need to do to support yourself?
    I think some soul searching would lead to some uncomfortable feelings and that could be tough but if you can really examine the discomfort, you will most likely find that a path appears.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      The LW wrote ” I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed. ” She is loyal to the people who report to her. This is commendable, but misplaced. They can leave too, and probably should. The one sane manager leaving might be the push they need to find something better. After all, they might be sticking through the craziness out of loyalty to the LW.

      1. Specks*

        Exactly this — it’s a job seeker’s market out there, and hopefully OP leaving will push other good people to leave as well. There has never been a better time.

      2. fposte*

        That’s the sentence that stood out to me too. OP, it’s easy to get into the role of being the person who holds the hectic place together, and I understand that can be tough to let go. But this isn’t parenting–you don’t owe you staff more because your workplace is dysfunctional. You can be a good manager and a good person and not sacrifice yourself to a whacked-out workplace. Think about things you might want for your future–will this job provide them? It sounds like the answer is no, and I’m concerned that the longer you stay the harder it’ll be to make up for lost time at a decent pay scale.

      3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Yes. You should leave, and once you are gone, help your team to do the same. That is how you can best be loyal to your team.

      4. Ismonie*

        It almost incentivizes her superior’s bad behavior. If they make it hard enough on the staff, the good manager will stay to take the load off. If they did their jobs and adequately staffer her team, then she wouldn’t feel so bad about leaving.

      5. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, that line jumped out at me, too.

        OP, you’ve set yourself up as the shield protecting the admin staff from the dysfunctional management. There are times and places that kind of sacrifice can be really worth it – if you were the manager for a bunch of nursing staff in a hospital with bad management writing in in, like, June 2020 and felt like the misery you were putting yourself through was genuinely saving lives in a crisis I’d probably admire that, even as I advised you to plan an exit strategy for the long term. Or if you were worried about lax safety protocol enforcement in your manufacturing job and wanted to stick it out because you’re able to protect front-line staff while your complaint to the regulatory agency is investigated. Or whatever – I’m sure there are other hypotheticals were it would be a reasonable call.

        But that doesn’t sound like what’s going on here – it just sounds like you don’t want to leave your staff in a bad situation but have no reason to think anything will change, ever, in a pretty ordinary dysfunctional small business. But they can leave too! They’re adults, with agency! It’s a pretty good job market in most places! You don’t have to sacrifice your career and happiness to make their lives marginally better.

        Do what’s best for you, and it sounds like leaving would be best for you.

      6. Kyrielle*

        And if they need the reference to get out, knowing they can ask for it because you’re no longer tied to the business and the dysfunction above you might be doing them a favor in that way also!

  16. LDN Layabout*

    You can do more for your admin group by advocating from a better job, as an easy and available reference and possible job source, than you can by staying in this pit of incompetent vipers.

    1. Honor Harrington*

      Strong agree. You should leave, and take them with you. If you get a new job, especially as a manager, you can hire them into your new team. You can network them into other jobs. You can help them in ways you can’t now.

      Like they say in the airline safety briefings, put your own mask on before putting the mask on others.

      This is a good time to ask yourself what you want your life to be like 10 years or 20 years from now. Maybe you have that extra day off, but will you be ok with the cumulative stress? What about the lower pay? Higher pay can buy a better life and earlier retirement sometimes. Sometimes thinking the long view make the sacrifices of now easier to bear.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      I had the same thought when I left a toxic company. I contacted each person individually who worked under me (via personal email or text, depending on info I had for them) and told them I would gladly serve as a reference for anyone that was also job-searching. I deserved to get out and so did they!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Yup. In fact, the LW tried to protect her admin group when she talked to April.

        She failed.

        This is not a shot at the LW, but at the situation. Which is untenable, not due to her actions, but that of management at the company. There’s no point in staying to protect people when you clearly are not able to do so.

  17. Trek*

    What if you stay and April changes her mind and you don’t receive the 4 day week? What if it impacts your team so negatively you never feel comfortable taking Friday’s off? I would try to negotiate for a larger salary now, if that doesn’t work take 1 to 2 weeks off so they can feel the impact of your absence and spend that time applying for as many jobs as possible. Take care of you and don’t trust dysfunctional leadership to determine where you end up in five years. Even if you worry about your team your advice to them should be they have to do what is right for them and their situation including leaving this job.

    1. fposte*

      And ultimately, you can’t pay your rent with a day off. That’s a great perk to have if you’re okay with your financial trajectory, but I think it’s a shiny misdirection here.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        And a nominally four day work week doesn’t mean much if you still have five day’s worth of work that must get done. This is akin to the places with unlimited PTO that you can never use.

        1. mlem*

          Yeah, I disbelieve that a place that “can’t afford” to raise pay is really only assigning 80% workload to their long-term staff.

  18. CanWeHaveSinglePayerNowPlease*

    Get out! So many red flags. The job market is ridiculously easy right now. I’m searching and getting interviews with very low effort applications.

    You can easily swing a raise, a title change, or even an industry change right now.

  19. Annie j*

    It seems like some of the problems mentioned in the letter are because the company doesn’t have enough staff, which is to say that if one person being out stretches the others to cover the work, something is not right, what if an employee Had an accident and had to have three or four months off instead?
    In theory, there is nothing wrong with managers of companies rewarding long-term employees with perks like a paid day off though perhaps every week is excessive.

  20. Cats and Bats Rule*

    Start looking for another job today! You won’t do your team or yourself any good sick with stress and burnout.

  21. Lynca*

    OP you describe this business as dysfunctional and it shows. You can’t save the admin group from being understaffed. The business sounds like a disaster waiting to happen since the owner and your manager are AWOL from the day to day activities. The other manager can’t do the work you do. This is a precariously stacked house of cards. Something is eventually going to happen to it.

    Leave. The admins will be okay. Reasonable people will not think badly of doing what you need to in order to take care of yourself.

  22. Sam*

    You can support your team by letting them know you see the skills and talent they’ve built over the years and that you’re happy to offer them a great reference when they’re ready to move on. Then leave.

    It’s not easy. I felt like I was abandoning my team, too. But after I left, I watched team members leave one by one for better jobs, too. We’re all healthier and happier.

    This is a great time to be job-hunting. Take your time, find a job that excites you, ensure you’ll be well-compensated, and escape. There’s so much happiness on the other side of a bad job.

  23. Anon for now*

    Leave. Trust me your reports are also looking. And, the company will survive without you. They always do. I was loyal to my old company for years. I begged for more help to told the company couldn’t afford it. I begged for more flexibility only to be told it wasn’t an option. Within months of me leaving they’d hired extra help and had re-evaluated how flexible they needed to be. If I had not left nothing would have changed. And even with the changes, half my direct reports still left any way. Hell, 9ne of them out in their notice within a week of my resignation,

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      I loved my job and my team. I hired six times in five years for two positions because of the workload. I lobbied for more people, and stuck with the overly stressful hours to support my team. After the fifth year, the honchos did a reorg and I was not on the org chart anymore.

      All that to say, anything can happen, and the promises are just words.

      Your team will survive without you. They will not hold it against you. They see what’s happening, and they may have their own plans.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      “the company will survive without you. They always do.”

      And if they don’t, they were not built to do so. No company of this size should hinge on the existence of one person. Anyone could have an emergency — or win the lottery! — and never show up again. Either way, the point we’re all making is the same — LW can’t and shouldn’t try to stop this dysfunctional company from failing by sacrificing her own sanity, money, and career.

      1. Tiffany Aching's imaginary friend*

        I read a great book with that title (Never Jam Today, by Carole Bolton) when I was a kid. It was a kid’s book, historical fiction about the suffragette movement. A good book *and* good information during my formative years. (I loved historical fiction. I think I read everything Patricia Beatty wrote.)

  24. singlemaltgirl*

    this may be one of the best times to find another role that not only pays better but treats you better. the current situation is not going to change in any substantial way for you given the owner and your manager (unless they die). and you don’t owe the company any loyalty. i appreciate you feel loyal to your team. but i would be advising your team to be looking as well. leave en masse! honestly, your mental health is important and you’re talking about this job wearing you down. don’t value your mental health and your own well being so little. remember the oxygen mask analogy – you put your own mask on in order to be around to help others. you will be of much more use to your team by leaving, finding a good situation, and giving them the opportunity to leave a toxic environment with an amazing reference from a manager (you!) who isn’t burned out beyond belief.


  25. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    April sounds like a hot mess. I know you don’t want to leave your group in a lurch, but at some point, it’ll probably be the best option. There’s never a “good” time to leave a department — it’s rarely not inconvenient unless someone is terrible to work with, which it doesn’t sound like is the case here at all.

    I know in my industry it’s pretty common to work 9-hour days Monday through Thursday and either get every other Friday off or get a half day off every Friday. I am very attached to this schedule, but I work for a fairly stable company and have a good and fair supervisor. If I had to trade that stability in for dysfunction just to have a compressed work schedule, I’d leave in a heartbeat.

    If I were you, I’d probably start looking, knowing that job hunting takes awhile and it’s not likely that you’ll get an offer right away. This would give you some flexibility so you aren’t scrambling for a new job if your morale continues to plummet. And if morale improves, great! If April matures, awesome! You can stay! But I do think exploring other options might be a good idea.

  26. Detective Amy Santiago*

    What happens with your work on your day off? Does it get done by someone else or does it just pile up and wait for your return? Because if it’s the latter, then it’s not really a perk to get more time off.

    1. Anon for now*

      That’s all I can think. Who does the work on the fifth day? If it’s like any place I’ve worked it’s no one. It just piles up.

    2. Lenora Rose*

      Some people find a rest makes their other hours productive enough that they can still handle the same amount of work (this is behind the push for 4 day weeks in the first place).

      However, this OP sounds concerned about coverage while away, which either means part of her job needs a warm body or a skype call presence even on her hours off, or the work is too much for a break. Of course, she’s also effectively managing two departments, not one. I wonder, if she wasn’t fielding questions for June’s team, if she’d be able to take the time without concerns most weeks?

      Regardless, a perk is only a perk if she or her team want the time off.

    3. Malika*

      This! In my country women work far more part-time than fulltime. Yet oftentimes they are still delivering the value of someone who works 5 days but getting paid less (overtime can quickly eat into your free time). This is a perk that benefits the employer far more than the employee! Get out now and apply for a new job, OP. While in a job you can quickly feel overloyal to the employer, but if they were unhappy or did not have the resources to keep you, they would most definitely let you go. I had a burnout that cost me in total two productive years in the workplace. That was time to develop skills, heighten salary and pension payments which i will never get that. Running for the hills will be good for your emotional and financial health.

    4. hbc*

      Yeah, this sounds like a perk that can work in theory, but there have to be a lot of things that come together right to make it work. It seems like it’s more like a wash at best if the salaries are below market (i.e.: they’re already getting paid like they’re 30-35 hours per week), but if 40 hours of work is expected, then it’s really just a slightly more flexible schedule.

      I’m at a point where I would love to take a 10-20% reduction in workload and hours over a raise. But I wouldn’t trust it at this company, and in OP’s position I would absolutely use those extra 4 hours a week to job search.

  27. glitter writer*

    This sounds like a really excellent time to walk away all cool and stylish with your sunglasses on and let them implode behind you.

  28. Meghan*

    OP, you *are* crazy. Crazy to stay. You will only get this perk in two years! And you’re already burnt out! The rest of the admin staff can handle themselves, they are adults who found this job, they can find another. You need to put yourself and your mental health first.

  29. V*

    I got to the “I won’t leave because of my staff” part and said “nope!” out loud. You cannot arrange your life around bailing out dysfunctional work situations. Save yourself.

  30. Rose*

    Leave. You do not need to concern yourself with how they will function after you are gone. It’s a job, not your family or friends. Your only obligation is to fulfill your duties while on their payroll. They have gotten more than they pay you for, go ahead and make a move that will be beneficial for you with absolutely no guilt or concern about what happens when you go.

  31. PJ*

    Your concern for fellow workers is admirable, but for the love of all that is holy, run from there as if you are on FIRE. “Dysfunctional” isn’t even scratching the surface.

    You have to be your own advocate on this. Staying when you know others are being paid more and/or receiving more benefits is a signal to others that you’ve agreed to be undervalued and used. And once they’ve received that message, there will be *more,* not less, of it.

    Look for a new role, and don’t look back! Good luck!

    1. Red*

      This! Change can be scary, but do you think you’ll look back with pride that you kept slogging through day after day of this toxic nightmare just in case someone might get a little huffy that you put in your two weeks???

      I’m dealing with regret over manymanymany years I spent in a terrible workplace because of “the teeeaaammm” and sometimes I feel like a walking headdesk emoji. So. much. time. wasted.

  32. Jean*

    A 4 day week would be nice but isn’t worth even half of this BS. Plus what’s stopping April from changing her mind after you stay and put up with this nonsense for 3 more years? Nothing, that’s what. So my advice is to strike while the market is hot and get the hell out of there asap.

  33. Ground Control*

    Way too much can happen in two years for you to be able to count on that, especially if that deal is already causing problems within the company. I agree with everyone else – GET OUT.

  34. Lenora Rose*

    Get out. A perk should be a perk, not a stressful obligation. If they can’t afford a minor pay raise instead of time off at a significant anniversary year, I’m guessing they don’t give raises at other times, either.

    Your team will survive, or they’ll get out too. You can care for them as people and still do what’s best for you.

    1. Ismonie*

      This. With inflation, if you aren’t getting regular raises, you are being paid less over time. If the business isn’t solvent enough to pay raises, that also means that in real dollars, they are less profitable over time. Run!

    2. Lenora Rose*

      I also just had the thought: If one of your team left for a better opportunity, what would be your thought: That they are leaving because of you, or they are leaving because of April and etc? Because your workers will have the same thought about you; they know the problem is above you, not below.

      And if they leave for a better workplace, will you feel happy for them for getting out? because if you would, remember, they will likely feel the same for you. (And if you don’t feel happy for them, the toxicity of the place is getting to you and you should DEFINITELY leave.)

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      +1 for this especially: “A perk should be a perk, not a stressful obligation.”

  35. KHB*

    This is the thing about “free days off”: They sound really good, and they look really good on paper, but when the company just keeps handing out more and more “free days off” without regard for all the work that still needs to get done, after a certain point they don’t mean anything anymore. (In fact, they can actually mean less than nothing, if you’re one of the more conscientious employees who keeps having to cover for everyone else who’s determined to make the most of all their free days off.)

    The deal this employer is offering you is not a good one. Please feel free to walk away without feeling guilty or questioning your sanity.

  36. CharChar*

    If the 4 day workweek is important to you, if it is something you can negotiate with a new role that you would like this. If you know you’re underpaid now, it may even be that 4 days in a new role is equal or more money than the pay you get for 5 days in this role.

  37. Falling Diphthong*

    My morale has crashed.
    I’ve looked online and I know there are jobs out there that pay more, and that I’m qualified for.
    But I won’t leave my admin group.
    Especially while we’re so understaffed.
    The trap doors are closing!!!!!

  38. The Other Katie*

    You don’t owe your company anything. You don’t owe your admin team anything. You especially don’t owe them your mental health and sanity.
    The promise of this poorly thought-out perk, assuming it hasn’t been abandoned in three years’ time, is not worth working yourself to the bone, underpaid, understaffed, in an under-resourced and undersupported job.

    Please reconsider your stance on leaving. You have no obligation to kill yourself working for someone else’s dream.

  39. Dust Bunny*

    Job hunt, like, yesterday.

    I’m having flashbacks about that job where I was responsible for making the schedules, when we had exactly enough staff to cover if everyone was there, but no spare personnel, and no flexibility because half our employees were in school and had limited schedules. If one person got sick there was nobody left to fill in and we were all just overworked.

    This is a bizarre, short-sighted, non-sustainable way to “retain employees”. We’ve said it on here before: You do not owe your employer more than they would be willing to give you (you as an individual and you, plural, the employees). April is not setting good policies. The entire owner/management dynamic is weird. Start looking for another job.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      If this place really cared they would do something about the understaffing, but they’re not. They’re just winging it to keep people on board for now. They’re painting everyone into a corner with what is basically a pyramid scheme of rewards–it only works as long as there are enough people who don’t qualify to cover for everyone. When too many people hit 5- and 10-year marks, they won’t be able to cover the work any more.

    2. Liz*

      My spouse recently left a job like that (retail management). There was *just* enough staff to have a skeleton crew, but when an employee quit, got arrested, got sick, came into contact with someone with COVID and had to wait for test results, etc., it fell on him to cover their shift. He regularly worked 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day.

      Finally, after about six months of hearing “I know, but it should get better when…” I flat-out told him it was never going to get better and he needed to leave. There was no incentive for upper management to hire or borrow employees from other locations because from their perspective, it was working. On one of his rare days off, we watched Office Space (which we’ve both seen about a dozen times) and it seemed to click.

      Less than a month after he left, they added four employees and reduced the store’s hours. Crazy how that happens.

      OP — run! Run as fast as you can!

  40. Mangled metaphor*

    I felt my eyes crossing trying to work out how those “perks” would be applied. Sounds like a mess to administer, and for it to keep changing…

    Run, get out, quit, advance to Go.

    1. Czhorat*

      It’s also really toxic to have things like flexible work schedule tied to seniority. If you can do the job with people there 4 days then it can be done in 4 days and you can have everyone work that way.

      If it isn’t doable in four days then it isn’t and nobody should work that way.

  41. learnedthehardway*

    Go, find another company. Take your admin staff with you, if you can. Good companies need good admin people and they’re hard to find.

    Do yourself a favour, and put on your own oxygen mask first.

    Unless you really like the 1 day off per week with 5 days pay – I mean, that could be a reason to stay. But you’ll have to make April understand that your team member doesn’t want that, and it won’t work for them. Also, you’ll have to get the management to agree to hire another person so that the entire work week is covered.

    That said, John and April don’t sound like they take the business seriously. Unless you have business pouring in the door and unless the business is stable in questionable economic times, I wouldn’t stay. Without someone really managing, doing the work of building client relationships, etc. etc., it’s eventually going to collapse.

  42. Brett*

    If the team or company is going to fall apart because of the departure of one person, then it is eventually going to fall apart around you without you having an exit strategy.

    Plan your departure now while you can do it in a controlled way that still benefits you.

  43. Evonon*

    I also work for a tiny dsyfunctional organization and the flexibility I have had also held me back from looking elsewhere. But after one particular awful day I had to ask myself if I were to be laid off tomorrow, how would I feel? Relief is putting the emotion lightly.
    They can promise you this perk, but it’s a perk not a right and you even said yourself that it’s already difficult to cover for people who leave as is what’s to stop them from rescinding this rule? Also, don’t think about leaving them understaffed if you were to leave for a better opportunity because that’s is THE OWNERS CONCERN. They would not offer you the same concern if they laid you off out of the blue or closed up shop so please take care of yourself first

    1. Reba*

      “I had to ask myself if I were to be laid off tomorrow, how would I feel?”

      That sounds like a great, clarifying mental exercise!

      LW could also try sort of the inverse, i.e. the Sheelzebub Principle from Captain Awkward: If things stayed exactly as they are, would you be able to stand it for … another month? another year? another five years?

      You already know everything there is to know about how this workplace is. They are unlikely to change, so assume they won’t and take actions *for yourself* accordingly.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      I had a similar moment. My previous company was not dysfunctional, but I was doing work for a team that was. I stayed way longer than I should have as my manager was also my manager at another job, so I felt some loyalty to her as she hired me twice. One day I thought to myself “nothing is changing, what if I just started job searching?” I was instantly flooded with relief. I started looking that day and found a new job and left.

  44. Smithy*

    OP – if you think that staying is helping your staff, I’d like to help demonstrate how leaving can help your staff.

    For lots and lots of people, job hunting, interviewing, and starting a new job are all really hard things to do for many reasons. And even for people where it’s not hard, it’s very rarely fun. If your options after work are spending time with friends/family, watching tv or sending out resumes….it’s the unique character who picks resumes first. As a result, it’s very common to find ways to adjust or accommodate ourselves to our current job as either being ok or having a silver lining on the horizon to look forward to.

    Therefore, it may take seeing an example of what is possible if you do those unpleasant job hunt tasks. First of all, that it can happen. That higher salaries/better benefits do exist. And that with your most recent boss now working somewhere else, they might be even more open to being a job hunt mentor and active reference. Second….your departure likely won’t make things horrific but might make things a bit more unpleasant. Which may also help motivate others to seek other opportunities. And lastly….your departure might open a space for someone on your team to take your current job and at least be challenged by a new leadership role.

    1000% definitely leave – but also, I encourage you not to think of your staying as necessarily helping your team. Because leaving can also help them out.

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Thiiiiiiis is what I was coming here to stay. OP may actually be able to enact the most change by leaving.

  45. CatCat*

    April does not think things through and is a bad manager. That is not going to change. I’m so puzzled that the company can’t afford to offer +10-20% for those who do not want or who cannot feasibly utilize the perk (which is one a lot o people WOULD value, but only if they can use it!), but there is money to hire more staff? She refuses to manage June. You are doing your job plus part of June’s job because June isn’t doing her job well, but April doesn’t want to deal with it and is engaging in social activities instead of work activities at work.

    I think you need to leave. It is clear you care about your staff, but you don’t need to sacrifice your own life satisfaction for them. They are adults and will resolve it for themselves. You can fight for them while you are there, offer to provide a great reference if that’s something they need, and provide solid transition documentation. But you don’t have to stay mired in an environment that is not working for you and that is unlikely to change to get what you want.

  46. Calvin B*

    I have no idea how working four days for five days of pay would even work if you are a manager and still have to get all the work done.

    Also, it seems that April and the staff that go on trips with John are already getting paid for not working?

    I feel like this has to be the plot to some TV show or book or something that someone is sending in as a letter, because I don’t understand how any of this works.

  47. Paris Geller*


    I promise your head will feel so much clearer once it’s been a few months removed from that mess!

  48. Shiba Dad*

    I’ve been in a similar situation where I didn’t want to screw over coworkers and customers by leaving. Things is, I didn’t create the bad environment, and neither did you OP. Get out while the getting is good.

    1. Ashley*

      Remember you are the owner of the company. Don’t hold yourself responsible at that level. Keep in touch with the good team members and offer to support them as you are able.

  49. EngineerMom*

    Get Out.

    Seriously. This company is way screwed up, and you’re likely to be looking for a new job in the not-to-distant future anyway when it crashes and burns.

  50. Natalie*

    I understand not wanting to leave a team behind that is already understaffed. But ultimately, their disfunction is not your problem to solve, including how the team will be effected when you leave. Get out. I just did the same thing and was worrying about my team. But I had a coworker tell me “her poor planning is not your emergency.” And honestly, companies will replace people in a heartbeat, they don’t even have the same loyalty. Go grow somewhere else.

  51. FG*

    I understand the feeling of not wanting to leave your team in the lurch, but you’re not a bad person for going to greener pastures. When you leave the company will either deal with that well or they won’t, but it’s not heartless to say “it’s not my problem.” All of your staff are as free as you are to leave at any minute. What would happen if someone else left tomorrow? Would you consider them selfish, or a traitor? I’m guessing not. As Alison often says, people leave jobs; it’s normal & to be expected. Every time I have finally dragged myself out of a bad situation, my primary emotion when the dust settled was relief. I have actually cried – for days – on leaving an untenable situation, but soon I wondered why I’d waited so long. The org survived, the people survived, & I saved myself (minus a not-insubstantial amount of job PTSD).

  52. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Yeaaah. If you have any options at all, leave. Don’t hurt yourself for two years because of others.

  53. Khatul Madame*

    You have been with the company for 7 years and $2/hour is a substantial difference in your eyes. My sense is that your compensation is way behind the times. It’s time to catch up.
    Starting tomorrow, devote your weekly day off to job search. You’ll see that there are companies out there that not only pay more, but let people do their work with less drama.
    You seem like a good manager devoted to your staff. Guess what – some of them also feel trapped, likely are underpaid, and are only sticking around because they like working with/for you. Your departure will set them free.
    PS Just don’t tell anyone at work you are looking. No telling what can happen if the gossip mill brings this information to management.

  54. Czhorat*

    I’m torn on the “perk”

    I like the idea of flexible time, which is really what this is. In practicality, how often does the extra day actually end jup being an extra day? One employer of mine (a very good one) had “summer Fridays” where in the summer you’d work 10 hours/day M-Th, then take Friday off. The problem is that if there’s a client meeting, or even an urgent question it’s hard to say “we’re taking Friday off” as an answer for why they need to wait until Monday. So you get the day off, but are tethered to your phone. Or the day off and attend a meeting via zoom. Or a day off and you have an angry client on Monday.

    Also salaried means you need to get a fixed amount of work done; if you can get it done in less time and they let you have a bit of it back that’s a nice thing!

    How well it works is entirely industry dependent.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Depends on company culture, but in my org people usually take alternate fridays as their days off. No one schedules a meeting on Friday any longer without confirming that all critical attendees can attend that Friday. It isn’t worth to try to schedule on Fridays because people will be out.

      1. Czhorat*

        Company culture, but also industry culture.

        I’ve had clients who need Friday availability. If the client wants it it can become hard to black out an entire day.

        Then again, I’ve also seen clients try to schedule late Friday afternoon meetings in the winter, even here in New York. That’s worth pushing back against.

  55. prismo*

    Reducing your schedule by one day a week doesn’t seem like much of a perk if it means it will cause extra stress for the other four days. How much will you even be able to enjoy those three-day weekends if you’re thinking about how much more work it’s creating for you when you get back? What are the odds you’ll end up just reallocating those 8 hours you’re supposed to be off to the four days you’re working? This sounds like a really bad deal. You don’t owe loyalty to any company, but especially not one that’s this messy and treating you this badly. Go! Be free!

  56. jj*

    One quick way to think about it is what your pay really is – like $25/hour for 40 hours a week is $27.78/hour for 36 hours a week. That’s the “real” hourly pay – so basically, is a 36 hour a week job at that pay rate under these conditions worth it to you? Assuming nothing else is going to change. I think that’s the real question…

  57. The Ginger Ginger*

    I’ve martyred myself on the altar of my staff before at a job that caused me incredible amounts of stress, and all I got out of it was a serious health problem. At some point you need to be as kind to yourself as you’re trying to be to others.

    I really encourage you to do a thought exercise here – pretend your staff have all won the lottery and moved to Bali, and you have accepted a role at one of the places you saw online. You never have to go back to this office and deal with any of this again. How do you feel? Do you lose a sense of dread? Do you feel any relief? Physically, do any muscles loosen up? Does your stomach relax? If any of that is true, I strongly recommend you leave. The kindest thing to do for your staff is to document your role and tasks thoroughly, and give them your contact info and tell them you will be a reference for them if/when they want to job search themselves.

    Honestly, the place you work sounds so dysfunctional, you cannot protect your team from it. I also question how long those perks can continue, or how long the business can continue offering those perks when leadership sounds so bad. Those kind of perks need to be seriously thought out and implemented in a way that doesn’t cause problems for the org as a whole, and clearly that has not happened here.

    Please leave for your own well-being. You can leave gracefully, but you need to get out. It’s normal for people to leave jobs, and if your company cannot handle your loss, that’s a failing on their part, not on you. And if you leaving encourages some of your team to take the same step, all the better for them.

  58. EngineerDE*

    Job hunting isn’t a commitment. I was with a company for 12 years and in the same role for 7 years, and it was so freeing when I started to look for jobs while still employed. Try a few searches and apply for a few jobs and see if your perspective changes. I started searching in February 2021 and started a new job in May. My new perspective is that movement is healthy, and in the end it benefits everyone when people don’t stay in a job for “too long”.

  59. Dr. Rebecca*

    Everyone’s covered the LEAVE portion, so I’d like to point out the METRIC TON of Sunk Cost Fallacy going on in your post, OP. This is not a situation where the benefits (eventually) accrued are going to outweigh the problems you face on a daily basis.

  60. irene adler*

    If you leave, there is the possibility you can assist your admin group in finding new jobs. Maybe even with your new employer.

    Over the long term, income plateau can and will hurt you-especially as you get close to retirement age. If you are able to use that fifth day off to generate another income stream, that might off-set the plateau.

    A day off each week is not a respite from the dysfunction.

  61. Colette*

    I see a couple of problems here.

    The first problem is that the company isn’t run well – you have April and her unusual relationship with the owner, June getting paid more to do less, and people being given time off without any sort of plan for how to cover their work.

    Somehow, those problems don’t bother the OP.

    The second problem is that the OP would like to make more money – but she’s tying that to the day off instead of just asking for a raise. She might have better luck just asking for a raise regardless of the time off.

    But realistically, it’s time to move on. I know the OP doesn’t want to leave her team, but that attitude can leave to trouble, because her team members can leave. They’re not giving her the same courtesy – nor should they. So if she stays for them, and they won’t stay for her, she could easily start resenting them. You don’t have to make sacrifices to your career for the benefit of your coworkers. If you leave and it becomes more unpleasant for your team, they can leave too.

  62. Twenty Points for the Copier*

    You describe the company as successful but… how? It seems like the two highest level people barely spend any time working, getting work done isn’t properly rewarded, and there’s an issue of staff being overworked and underpaid that will almost certainly lead to turnover if it hasn’t already.

    Is this really a stable business that can afford to continue paying staff market rates over time? Aside from the dysfunction, this seems like another point in favor of starting a job search rather than committing your entire career to this place.

  63. Nea*

    Don’t be distracted by irrelevant issues. You want more money. You won’t get it here. Therefore, go elsewhere.

    It doesn’t matter if they’re good, bad, or indifferent. It doesn’t matter if they’re offering you your body weigh in chocolate and a free pony. You want money. You have to go elsewhere to get it.

    So, go elsewhere.

  64. Stevesie*

    I’ll play devil’s advocate since the comments are overwhelmingly in favor of leaving (and personally I would leave asap). But I could see a person this could work for. You’d have to be a person very detached from the job itself and not a person who “takes the job home” with them. If you can punch in, do your work, and punch out, and have really good boundaries about what you can accomplish in the 32 hours a week you are at work, I think it could be done. It sounds like you’re not that type of person, based on the fact that you take responsibility and take pride in managing your team well. Not to say that good managers take work home with them, but I think it would be difficult to turn that part of your brain off. Some jobs beat the caring out of you.
    I hope you do see this as a wake up call and prioritize yourself over this business and your admin team. Like everyone else said, it’s not a sign of disloyalty, this is stuff most people wouldn’t put up with! But if you do stay, I hope that you put some firm boundaries in place.

    1. Czhorat*

      You can’t do that in some jobs though.

      You can go home, disconnect, and come back to an angry client, angry boss, and more work to do. Eventually it will reach the point where you’re not getting enough of the job done to remain employed.

      1. Stevesie*

        Based on the fact that another manager seems to struggle to anything and they *begged* her to come back to work after she had kids, I have a feeling OP could downshift their effort by a significant percentage and remain employed at this business. Or at least while they’re looking for other work.

  65. generic_username*

    You don’t owe your admin staff your unhappiness. They too can leave, and should if they don’t like the work environment (to include being overworked/underpaid). Find something else and then put in your notice. Let all of your staff know that you have loved working with them and will be happy to provide a reference in the future, and make sure they have your personal contact information so they can reach out when they start looking.

  66. Kathenus*

    A perk that just dumps the consequences on other employees is not the employer doing something nice for employees. It’s them trying to look good without any cost to them or the bottom line. It’s like an employer offering paid leave without reducing workload/hiring backup and patting themselves on the back for being a great place to work. I get you want to support your admin team but showing them to not take this and move on is actually a great thing to teach them as well.

  67. Purple Cat*

    “I know there are jobs out there that pay more, and that I’m qualified for … but I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed”

    Screams into the void – LEAVE!!!!!!!!!!!
    I feel like Alison needed to revisit her other standard mantra ‘I give you permission to quit your job.”
    You are giving your company FAR more loyalty than they are giving you. And I know in your head that you’re thinking of it as loyalty to your employees, and that’s to be commended, but not at this cost. They want to give you a “perk” of working less hours, knowing that you can’t actually work less hours and get the job done, therefore they get the goodwill of offering this, without experiencing any ill effects from it actually being implementing.

  68. Catie*

    What a wacky policy. Instead of paying people full time while working part time based on tenure, it would be more fair to let everyone make their own decisions about taking unpaid time off or having part time schedules with a corresponding part time salary. No wonder people are feeling resentful about this. Plenty of other companies offer these types of flexible arrangements to all employees without regard to their years of service.

  69. My Stars*

    This smells like an organization with serious cash flow problems. No raises, just more time off; badly managed sales department (revenue generation); hands off owner. Cash any checks from them immediately, and get out before they sink altogether. They’re not going to be around in two years for that perk to be vested. Echoing upstream commenters — get out now, and offer recommendations to anyone else that might also leave.

  70. MishenNikara*

    List of things you owe this comapny:

    If you can do better and get out do it. Two years wait in a crappy job is torture.

    1. MishenNikara*

      There was a part where i said “end of list” with nothing in said list but the comment system ate it :(

  71. ecnaseener*

    The day off is potentially very nice. It may or may not be nice enough to outweigh the stress of everything else.

    The commentariat here is of course skewed toward people who care about work, but if you can flip that switch in your head to become someone who doesn’t need work to be satisfying, the day off could be worth it. Then it becomes a money vs time calculation, where more free time = more time to do things you love etc.

    That said, I would personally not be able to flip that switch, so if this is driving you batty, no point in staying!

  72. TiredMama*

    Leave. This is on the business owner, not you. The owner has made bad choices. Hopefully after you leave the admin staff will leave too and the business will either make changes or sink.

  73. Daffy Duck*

    You will break your heart, your health, and your bank account by caring more about the business than the owner. The best thing you can do for your admin team is to get out yourself and then help the great ones get out also – either by poaching or giving them a great reference to another place.
    I would bet a dollar your admin team is only staying because they don’t want to let you down. Y’all don’t need to support the crazy when there are better jobs out there that will support you.

  74. generic_username*

    That one day off a week perk is amazing and I would love to have it (provided I didn’t have to work late to make up the hours on other days). That’s 52 days a year! Would it be worth dealing with the dysfunction? Mayyyybe not….. but that might actually work for them with retention and hiring

  75. Zan Shin*

    It’s totally back-assward: they can “afford” to give you an effective pay cut by having you/others do the same actual total amount of work in a more compressed time period but CAN’T “afford” to give you raises.
    You owe them nothing. Get out.

  76. magical*

    If you stayed, do you think the benefits are worth it to you? It doesn’t sound like it in this letter. Please don’t stay out of loyalty — it’s just a company, and if you leave you will be happy and valued somewhere else.

    If there’s some great reason staying works for you then do it! But it sounds like you’re miserable and have become accustomed to the disfunction.

  77. I edit everything*

    Here’s an idea: help your admin team job hunt, too. Build a library of job hunting resources. Surreptitiously slip some links to this blog into emails to your team. Help them network. Give them time and space for interviews. Tell them: “If you’re job hunting, I will not penalize you, and I will happily provide a reference for you.” Get your whole team out with you. This company does not deserve to survive.

    If you’re determined to stay and be the martyr, however…
    If April can afford to hire more people, why can’t she afford to pay current employees more?
    Only work the hours you’re paid for. Do what you can in your 4.5 days, and let April pick up what’s left, or let it fall.
    Have the “I’m here this many hours. I can finish X and Y in this time, and then either A or B, but not both. Which should I prioritize?” conversation, followed up with, “The rest of my staff is already overworked, so if I do A, you’ll need to do B.”
    Leave on time every day and don’t be available after hours. Make sure your team does the same. What doesn’t get done doesn’t get done.

    I wish you all the best, LW. But really, don’t be a martyr.

    1. drpuma*

      Yes! You can support members of your team moving on as well as setting the example by getting yourself to a better place.

    2. Neosmom*

      Full agreement, here. Sometimes upper management has to “feel the pain” to understand their plan is unacceptable.

  78. Dona Florinda*

    Did you read your own letter, OP? This place is bonkers!
    April just creates new rules around to suit her and her friends, regardless of what actually makes sense for the company. In two years she might as well decide that the 10-year rule doesn’t apply anymore. Or you might decide that even a day off every week isn’t worth the money.
    Some many things can go wrong here that staying just for this (not well thought perk) is a shot in the dark, and one that could backfire.
    Please, just do what’s best for you, and your team will soon follow.

    1. James*

      That’s my take as well. It’s HIGHLY unlikely the LW will ever experience this perk. In a job like this 2 years is an eternity, and the rules will change multiple times by then. It’s pretty obvious just from the letter that the reality is, these perks are for the friends of certain people in the company, not for the employees in general.

  79. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Leave and get that better-paying job. It’s not your responsibility to make up for existing defects in the company especially if management is aware of them and chooses to do nothing. If the economy tanked next week they would let you go in a heartbeat. Look after yourself, no one else is going to.

  80. Plebeian Aristocracy*

    Well, you have two options.

    1) Leave. You have a fickle boss who changes policy on a whim to suit her needs, and then pushes all of the responsibility onto you. That’s not fair to you, but it also means that she can’t be trusted to guarantee you that day-off a week in two years.

    2) If you want to stay, find a way to do less. People are coming to you with their problems? Send them to June, since it’s her responsibility. Her freaking out makes them uncomfortable going to June? Send them to April instead. These are not your problem, they are their problems. Right now, they’re getting a free pass because you sound like a very kind person. Be kind to yourself, and don’t give them that pass.

    3) Keep the status quo. You are unhappy, but unless you are willing to do something about it, things will get worse. This is not a company where they will get better. This is not a company where they actually care about you. This is a company that is using you. They are making you feel trapped and powerless, when you are neither. However, unless you are willing to take action and make changes, then you are in for a very long two years with no guarantee at the end.

  81. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    If I’m reading this right, April is 30 years old and she’s been there more than ten years. So she was a teenager (or maybe 20 years old?) when she started at this company? So I’m guessing that she has very little experience with standard business practices elsewhere and it sounds like she’s making up these perks as she goes, but without actually looking at how this will impact the business. Having a half day off every week is great…if the work actually allows it, which it clearly does not for some of your staff.

    I agree, you should absolutely be job searching right now, especially since your pay has plateaued and you don’t think you’ll be able to get more actual money. What about cost of living increases? Inflation feels like it is very much a thing right now, and I wouldn’t be waiting 2-3 more years to get this “perk” of an extra day off, that you might not even be able to use based on workload, when your salary is effectively decreasing due to inflation. No thanks. Get out!

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      Good point. I must’ve misread the part about April’s lack of general good work-experience, because she’s been in a dysfunctional workplace for so long.

  82. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Use the 4 hours a week to job search! I understand you care about your staff but it doesn’t sound like you can do anything more to help them. Your first sentence was that your workplace is dysfunctional. If you wrote to AAM so you won’t feel guilty leaving – here is your validation. Don’t feel guilty!

  83. You owe them NOTHING*

    Never, ever, ever, EVER fall into the trap of thinking “I can’t desert them right now, this place relies on me/they couldn’t absorb the damage of me leaving.”

  84. bopper*

    Start looking for new jobs that pay more…and look for jobs that pay more for your admins too.
    They have created a non-sustainable work place and it is going to crash at some point.

  85. SparkleBoots*

    I get the feeling of wanting to support your admin group – when I left my last job, there were some people who I knew would be picking up my slack if/when they hired a replacement (and they did not). But my people understood the reasons I left, and were happy for me when I got a new job. I did my best to cross-train them so they could handle the work for a while. I encourage you to do the same for your employees. Also encourage them to find jobs elsewhere. This company sounds like a sinking ship on fire. I recommend all of you to get out and find something better. The paid day off (in TWO YEARS! you don’t even have it now!!) is not worth it.

  86. sometimeswhy*

    If you were in the sort of place where upper management had turnover, I *might* see an argument for hanging in there but that doesn’t sound like the case for you.

    Go, and do it with a clear conscience. OP, you are not an expedition leader whose team will perish if you leave them. They are adults in the workforce who can make their own decisions.

  87. The Dogman*

    Leave ASAP.

    No boss or colleagues deserves loyalty in the face of that sort of insane working environment!

  88. animaniactoo*

    LW, it sounds like you are in a dysfunctional relationship with your company and you are allowed to put on your own oxygen mask first.

    If you’re concerned about your admin group, offer to serve as a reference for them if they ever need one.

    But yeah, I think you should go, because the kind of thought process you’re in and where the company is at now? Is only going to get worse as time goes on and more things land on you because you’re the one who doesn’t freak out and figures out how to kind of make stuff work… and if the company can’t afford to pay for the actual amount of work needed to be done… (when talking about people who are theoretically doing the full actual work week because they won’t be able to complete all the work any other way) then the company is in trouble anyway, and sticking it out yourself to save your admin team is not going to get your company to address the issues. They may not address them anyway. But sticking around definitely won’t make it happen, and you can’t make up the difference for them without taking on more responsibility for the company’s success than anyone who doesn’t have an ownership stake in the company should have.

  89. Jill*

    April is awful on her own, you definitely need to leave but I think your assumptions about June are affecting your attitude about your job.

    June is in the same position you are, also dealing with April’s crazy management. You say she has lots of experience in her industry and has been at the company longer than you, it’s not really unreasonable that she makes $2 more. It also seems like she tried to quit this crazy job when she had kids and negotiated a perk with April to come back. It’s unfortunate that it snowballed, but calling her an emotional alcoholic when it isn’t relevant to your actual work situation isn’t helpful, especially when it seems like she’s complaining about the same work problems you are, being overworked and stressed.

  90. JustA___*

    OP, I was you, driving myself to the brink to support my customers and my team in an office full of bees. It took a bunch of other people quitting to bring me out of a delusion that it would get better if I stuck it out.
    You deserve a job that supports you and compensates you properly. Full Stop.
    A half day off doesn’t pay the bills, and won’t fix the salary discrepancy with June, but it sure does make it easier to schedule interviews! ;) I’m rooting for you and your team to get out. My did, and it is quite honestly, the BEST.

  91. Chickaletta*

    By working 4.5 days, are you doing less work, or just cramming the same amount of work into fewer hours? If the former, I’d consider this to be an actual perk, but if it’s the latter then it probably is all smoke and mirrors.

    Also, you mention that other staff have to cover when people are out on their days/hours off. So, are they getting paid more or are they being asked to do more work for the same pay? This is a concern too.

    If the company can’t afford to pay their employees more but they can afford to cut back hours, they may be not as successful as they think. Sounds like they’re working themselves towards a 4-day business week and that in itself is a very red flag of the financial stability of the company. (My guess is in reality the owner and April are just taking more profits for themselves. Yay capitalism.)

  92. Jax*

    April’s carrot of earning weekly PTO after 5-10 years of service is a great retention strategy, and actually a better deal than pre-pandemic companies offering tiered WFH schedules for the same amount of service. I’d rather have a full day off than a full day working at home.

    April saying there is no money for raises? Big red flag. April saying there is no money to hire also means 4 days in the office are going to turn into 4/10’s to keep up with the work load, completely negating the perk of the day off. (Trust me–you’ll need that day to recover and catch up from everything in your life you had to put on hold during M-Th when you were killing yourself.)

    Go look!

  93. Knope Knope Knope*

    Follow the money. Sure an extra day off a week is nice, but you know an even better way for an employer to encourage work life balance? Pay employees what they’re worth. We work to live, and that extra money will have a real positive impact in your life—as will working at a less dysfunctional company. And though you may be helping your employees in the moment, none of them have to stay there, just like you don’t. So why not lead by example and encourage them to leave too? Be a good reference.

  94. Person from the Resume*

    If you’re not getting paid your market value and can’t expect pay raises, is it really worth it? Like maybe you’re only being paid market value of 4 days but you’re already working 4.5 days.

    You can decide you value the work life balance more and keep working there because you’re unlikely to get such a great part time deal anywhere else. But it doesn’t sound worth it.

    Also get out while the getting’s good i,e, on your own time frame. This 60 year old owner may decided to retire so he can travel even more and where will you be? This business could fall apart from all the mismanagement.

    Start job hunting. Take the time to find a good job to move to.

  95. CaviaPorcellus*

    You don’t stay in a house that’s on fire in solidarity with everyone else who’s staying. You leave the house as quickly and safely as possible.

    This house is burning. Run.

  96. Mockingjay*

    Don’t stay because you feel an obligation to “protect” your staff. As a manager, you are in charge of their work environment, not their life choices. They are adults and can decide themselves whether to stay. (Although I guarantee that they are looking too.)

  97. Quickbeam*

    The “day off with pay” will just result in more pain on the days you are there. It’s a hole, a pit trap. Run away.

  98. Nicki Name*

    OP, I’ve been in your situation, not wanting to leave a terrible place because I didn’t want to heap even more work on my co-workers. I wound up leaving at least five years later than I should have.

    Don’t be ashamed of saving yourself. You can’t save anyone else by staying, but you can show them that there’s a way out by leaving. This company isn’t worth another two years of your life, day off or not. You deserve better.

    1. Amaranth*

      Also, OP leaving might be the wakeup call for everyone else that they don’t have to put up with these conditions and that there are other jobs out there. I stayed in a toxic job way too long and then the three of us who were all hanging in there to keep Operations and Finance running realized we were holding ourselves hostage…so we all quit on the same day.

  99. DG*

    OP, based on the way you talk about your coworkers it’s clear that you don’t respect them and don’t have the desire to try to build your relationships with them into something more functional. I don’t mean that in a snarky way – I would not respect these people either. They sound like a bunch of clowns. But that *alone* is reason to look elsewhere, regardless of the details of this specific situation.

  100. Red*

    Here’s the thing, I worked at a similarly dysfunctional company. They refused to give me a raise and they refused to help me with my workload. I stayed there for years until I finally was fed up. I found another job and left.
    As soon as I left it became apparent at the company that to hire someone to replace me they would need to a)split the role between 3 people and b) pay each of those people more then they paid me individually in order to get them to accept their offer of employment and retain them. It took the vacuum of the person holding up the department for real change to happen because as long as you’re there holding everything up management will walk all over you and resist change. Once you stop supporting the floor they walk on things will change.
    You leaving will be rough on your team initially but it will likely be the best thing you could have done for them either in terms of showing them a way out or by creating a vacuum for change.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Counterpoint – I was the tentpole, they replaced me with two people, and the company continued to sink because the dysfunction was top down and those guys couldn’t keep a company running for more than 3 or 4 years. All my leaving did was to save me and speed up the company shutting down by a couple of months (by the estimation of others who had been there through previous companies with them).

      So I think the point that it’s okay to leave is a stronger one, along with making clear that you’re available to serve as a reference for them.

    2. Stevesie*

      I agree completely. I watched my mom get pushed around at her job for 20 years! They wouldn’t pay her what she deserved because she didn’t have a degree (not the norm when she started there in the 80s), and continued heaping responsibilities on her without improving her pay. She was working 60 hour weeks regularly to keep up. She finally got her degree and left to make probably 50% more, and they had to hire someone at double her salary just for a qualified candidate! And that person undoubtedly was allowed to delegate things that she had to do since they didn’t fear being let go all the time. The mismanagement was unbelievable and it took years for her to understand how much she was really worth and how to advocate for herself.

  101. AdequateAdmin*

    Leave, leave, leave!

    Things never end well when there’s that kind of dysfunction from the top down. I’d be worried about how much longer the company will survive. It’s not on you to fix the mistakes of the higher-ups when you don’t seem to have that power. If they won’t hire more staff or figure things out, that’s a problem they have created and don’t deem it important enough to fix. I’m also confused as to how the option you suggested would be any different from the perk that April is already offering? How can they afford one but not the other?

    And why stay with this type of stress and dysfunction when you could move to another company for more money and probably less dysfunction and stress? Things aren’t going to change, so you have to decide what your breaking point is.

    (Also, mildly concerned about all the vacations and trips John and April are taking when they can’t give one person a 10-20% “raise”. Are they funding this via the company? Are they pulling money out of thin air? I’ve worked for several small companies that seem ok financially from the outside, but on the inside it’s a giant bumblecluster.)

  102. Baffled Teacher*

    If you died tomorrow, they’d have to get along without you, wouldn’t they? Make them get along without you AND be alive! Win-win!

    Leave—especially because it seems like you can. This has spiraled beyond being your circus or your monkeys. Let these “adults” fix their own problems.

  103. uncivil servant*

    It sounds like salary shrinkflation to me. They can’t afford to pay more, so they’ll give time off instead. They can’t really afford that either, because they aren’t staffing extra to make up for the shortage, but in the short term, this might keep people happy while not obviously affecting cash flow. I would expect that as more people reach the 5 or 10 year mark, there’ll be more pressure on everyone to work more hours to account for the shortfall.

  104. lookingoutforno.1*

    I have only worked for small family-owned companies. My very first boss was a wonderful mentor who taught me these truths: 1)you are not married to your company. They will fire you in a heartbeat to save their own skin and salary. 2)when a company treats some employees as favorites, you will get screwed every time, 3) moving on is good, staying past 5 years makes you lazy and complacent because the challenge is gone.
    My boss promoted me several times in the 5 years I was with him, and at the 5 year mark he told me I would have to leave to advance my career. I did, and 2 jobs later, he poached me back. He never steered me wrong and gave me great references. So great that I got an offer at every place I ever applied. (I worked in IT).
    All this is to say: your company will not blink when the money runs out and they have to cut back. Run like the wind, stretch your wings, and be all you can be. You will not reach your full potential at this place. They need the money to fuel the jetset lifestyle, not waste on the drones who actually do the work for the money.

  105. TheyThemTheirs*

    There are a lot of companies who are offering a 4 day work day that’s not as dysfunctional as hell. Because you can work the two more years there, and stay on longer to get the perk, and you’re still in hell… you’re just there for less days of the week.

  106. Esmeralda*

    OP, you would not be abandoning your team. April (and John) are responsible for not paying competitively, for piling work on some employees to enable a perk for other employees, for paying an ineffective and perhaps counterproductive employee (June) more than an employee at the same level (you) — an employee who does more work and better work.

    Let’s not even talk about the travelling, the planning of leisure time, the whole optics of that freakin mess.

    If the business has financial setbacks, I am sure that April / John would have no problem letting you go. And there’s no guarantee that three years from now that short week will still be on offer.

    Take care of yourself. Take advantage of this moment and get a better job. If your team is smart, they will do the same.

  107. Coder von Frankenstein*

    This comes up over and over again on AAM: “I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed.”

    Your admin group can leave too. In fact, they *should* leave. All of you should leave. And you are the one best positioned to lead the way. You can give your people glowing references (if they deserve them) and send them contacts that they’d be qualified for. You might even end up pulling some of them after you to your new employer!

    Whereas, if you stay… then you are telling them by your actions that this is an okay company to work for when it’s a stinking dumpster fire. You are modeling precisely the wrong behavior. And the more loyalty they feel to you, the less likely *they* are to leave–they don’t want to abandon you, and you don’t want to abandon them, and so you all huddle at the bottom of a fiery garbage hole.

    Climb out. Then toss down a rope.

  108. Willis*

    OP – Why do you believe this perk will even exist in its same form in 2 years and beyond if it’s not working well now and is administered by someone who seems to change their mind on a whim? Staying when you’re underpaid and don’t like your job on the possibility of a perk 2 years from now seems like bad logic. Especially since the “perk” is not a huge payout that you could enjoy even if you quit. You would have to continue working at this crappy place for as long as you want the perk.

  109. bluephone*

    Hon, you “feel trapped” because you’ve trapped yourself. You’re literally holding the keys to your own release (job hunting, finding good prospects, etc). Now you need to put the key in the lock, turn it, open the damn door, and leave already (aka, apply for those jobs and don’t stop until you get a job offer and for god’s sake, take the offer and GO).
    Yes, Jane doesn’t sound great, and April sounds like a mess, and everything about this situation doesn’t sound enjoyable at all…but at this point, your staying is just full-tilt masochism and no one enjoys being around that.

  110. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    If you leave, the rest will most likely follow you.

    I once left my team because I couldn’t handle it anymore due to staffing shortages among other things. And they were all gone and safe within a years time. Leave them with your contact information and advocate for them to find jobs outside of that nonsensical place as well.

    The place is still standing. They’ll replace you if it’s a viable business. If it’s not, then you weren’t the reason it crumbled, it was just simply unsustainable and prompt up on toothpicks this entire time.

    1. Deb*

      This! there’s a good chance that at least some of your team members are staying because of loyalty to you. Set them free by setting yourself free.

  111. Squirrel*

    Time to think about yourself, I think! What do YOU really want? What would you have to sacrifice to get that? What is stopping you from taking steps to get the job you deserve?

  112. Twisted Lion*

    OP I think you are staying out of loyalty to your coworkers/team but in the end you need to do what’s best for you. And thats leaving. Its not going to get better. And look at this way, if you find a new job, you might be able to bring some of that team with you. Win win.

    Please dont stay for others. They will leave eventually as well.

  113. Fat Linda*

    I have a feeling they’re going to merge the definitions of ‘paid half day’ and ‘work from home’ and if you do agree to it, get it in writing.

    I wouldn’t necessarily quit because it does seem like you work for a decent place that is willing to work with you to keep you on the roster. But if it’s this dysfunctional, is the pay enough to offset it? Just my 2c but I would personally love a paid half-day every week if it’s actually a half-day and not a ‘be on the lookout in case there are emails but otherwise you’re off’ kind of arrangement.

    Sometimes my boss gives me the day off (Bank holiday) with the caveat to keep an eye on the email in case anything urgent comes up. Personally it makes it really hard for me to actually relax and enjoy my day off which defeats the point. I am getting better about setting life/work boundaries.

  114. twocents*

    NGL, I don’t quite follow the scheme here, but I hear loud and clear that you’re: overworked, underpaid, on a path to burnout with a deeply unhappy staff in a dysfunctional (though currently profitable) business.

    Leave. There are too many problems here and none of them actually seem to be in your control to fix. It’s currently a job seekers’ market; take advantage of that while you can.

    I can almost guarantee you that, a few weeks or months removed from this place, and you’ll find yourself thinking, “why tf did I put up with that?”

  115. Leela*

    If she is leaning on you to get her own company running, leave. You are not getting the professional development you would get if someone better was above you. I’d leave your admin team, they’ll leave (and they should) when they get better options. And if you’re the only reason they’re staying, they should leave anyway. Don’t stay just for the people, they cycle out and then you’re left with whatever else is true about that job (pay, hours, management, etc), and if it’s bad that’s what you’ll be left with.

  116. Archaeopteryx*

    You’re helping nothing and no one by staying. You should leave and your staff should too. Sorry :(

  117. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    This is a job, not a codependent family.
    But you have been roped in with time, justification, rule bending, sunk cost, carrots and being committed to the “cause”.

    You need to find another job and get out of there. They will try and keep you by making up new rules/perks, but thats not enough to fix the underlying issues of which there are many that you have no standing to address (and never will).

    You need to decide you have had enough and do whatever it takes to get a better job.

  118. The Smiling Pug*

    Hi there OP, please get out of this absolutely dysfunctional workplace. As other commenters have said, your team is probably also looking for other jobs, but not saying anything. You know that you have the skills and experience to thrive elsewhere: please do that!

  119. Sara without an H*

    I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed. I’ve convinced April that we need to hire more people. But I feel trapped.

    Hi, OP — of course you feel trapped. You’ve trapped yourself.

    I can understand your not wanting to leave your team behind but, really, this is misplaced loyalty. I doubt whether your staying is going to do them much good in the long run. It’s clear that they’re not going to resolve the staffing situation, and they’re going to keep playing around with dubious “perks” instead of giving you raises.

    You describe your company as both dysfunctional and successful. This is a difficult combination to sustain over time. What happens when the owner retires and/or dies? Who’s going to run the place — April and June? I think you know how that would work out.

    The best thing you can do for your own team is to model good professional behavior for them. Send them the link to Ask A Manager and encourage them to read it. Make sure they understand that, if they want to look for other jobs, you’ll be glad to provide them with references.

    Then update your resume and LinkedIn status and start looking for other jobs.

  120. lcsa99*

    I know you’ve already had a lot of people telling you to run away from this job, so I just wanted to give you something to think about that I got from Captain Awkward. If you knew nothing was going to change – your time off, your pay, your stress levels – how much longer would you be willing to put up with this? 5 years? 10 years? More? You have no guarantees that you’ll get that full day off. You have no guarantees that any of the stuff you’re hoping for, including more staff and more pay. will ever happy. All you have is what you’re living with now. No help from the higher ups, a much lower pay than you would likely get elsewhere, and a “perk” that’s just making your life more stressful. Nothing is likely to change. Are you really ok to keep living with that?

  121. anonymous73*

    If they can’t afford to pay people more to work a full 5 days a week, then they can’t afford to provide people with this day off perk. You need to bring that to her attention (although I doubt it will do any good) and also seriously reconsider looking to move on. This company is highly dysfunctional and their understaffing problem is not yours to solve.

    1. a thought*

      I think their logic is the day off perk doesn’t cost them anything (from the $ bottom line). I think the underlying subtext of that is that people will accomplish the same work in less time. From productivity studies, that actually might be feasible for some jobs!

      1. anonymous73*

        I understand the logic behind their theory. But if someone is able to finish their work in 4 days, and the company is giving them day 5 off without adjusting their salary, then they’re essentially getting a raise. Having an extra day off work each week is a benefit, just like paid time off and medical benefits. It’s all part of determining how much money a company is spending for each employee. So if someone isn’t able to get their job done in 4 days, they shouldn’t be penalized by working extra hours and not getting a bump in salary. You either provide a benefit to all or to none.

  122. Pyjamas*

    The subordinates you care about? You’re teaching them by example that this set-up, with all its red-flags, is normal. If there is any time for you ALL to break free, it’s now. Best thing you can do for them is craft good recommendation letters for them while and promise to be a reference. Cause you know your “superiors” are going to react inappropriately and possibly with malice as ppl leave.

    P.s. ffs GET OUT!!!

    1. Pyjamas*

      Typo: write recommendation letters for your team now, while their work is fresh in your mind.

      I think so many ppl are screaming LEAVE that the commenting system is overloaded — I keep getting bounced out of this text box

  123. GalFromAway*

    You said: “… but I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed. I’ve convinced April that we need to hire more people. But I feel trapped.”

    I would like to suggest a mantra for you when you think about your “obligation” to be there when things are so toxic, dysfunctional and non-supportive to you.

    “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

    You are not responsible for what the boss is doing, nor are you responsible for looking after everything around your team. You are responsible for you, and you deserve to be treated better.

    So as get your resume out there, and (insert spooky haunted house voice) get out!!!, keep that mantra in mind.

  124. pmg1984*

    That place sounds toxic as hell. It’s not your responsibility to ensure that your employer is adequately staffed once you leave. It sounds like you want to leave, but you’ve been gaslighted into searching for a justification to stay. I think you should gtfo. An extra day off isn’t worth that madness, especially if you have to stick it out for 3 more years.

  125. Hacker For Hire*

    You’re underpaid, burnt out, and overwhelmed at this place. You “loyalty” to your coworkers and your company is admirable but misplaced; remember, as soon as your company finds someone else or doesn’t need you anymore, it’ll fire you without demur.
    Quit this toxic job.

  126. ElleKay*

    You’ve convinced April that you need more staff but there’s no budget for a raise? That makes no sense. If she has agreed to hire more people she should also be willing to consider paying the employees they have more.

  127. a thought*

    From the tone of your letter it sounds like you are done with this place. I think that’s enough of a reason to go! FWIW, I think someone else might have a very different perspective on this perk – and would be willing to accept less pay and some shenanigans for it! (Leaving aside the other issues). But it also makes sense that folks would rather work a full week and get paid accordingly.

    One thing is that you note there is favoritism in the changing of the policy – but also they changed the policy so that it would apply to you! But if you want to leave, you get to do that!!

  128. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    “My morale has crashed. I’ve looked online and I know there are jobs out there that pay more, and that I’m qualified for … but I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed.”

    That isn’t your problem. Do not stay in a dysfunctional company because they struggle to hire more people. It’s John’s job to figure out staffing, not yours.

  129. Sloanicot*

    I always forget their are people who, rather than working less for the same pay (my dream!) would rather work more for more pay. Well, it takes all kinds to make a world!

    1. a thought*

      Agreed! I think the concept of this perk is awesome, but it sounds like there are other issues at play here…

      It would be great to have this perk in a well-functioning workplace!

  130. bunniferous*

    Sounds to me that this business is circling the drain even if you are successful now. Get your resume out there. Stat. Go earn what you are worth.

    This is supposed to be a good job market. Hint. Hint.

  131. Elizabeth West*

    OP, this is just a business. You’re not the owner, and it’s not your baby or your dog. It’s okay to leave it if it’s not working for you.

    Your admins have the same choice. I commend you for being concerned about your direct reports. However, there’s only so much you can do without April and John’s backing, which is clearly not going to happen. You can offer to give them a good reference if they want to look for a different job. But at this point, I think you need to do what’s best for you. It would not hurt to look and see what’s out there. That’s not a commitment, just looking.

  132. iiii*

    How many of your staff are feeling stuck there because they don’t want to leave *you* in the lurch?
    When you free yourself from this trap, you may be freeing them too.

  133. Finally free*

    Leave! Seriously, just get out of there.

    Dysfunctional workplaces – and yours definitely qualifies – mess with your head. The longer you stay the harder it will be to recalibrate once you finally get out and have the distance to process how damaging that environment was. (Yes, speaking from experience.)

    Nothing they have to offer is worth it. Get out!

  134. Eleganz*

    In 2 years you’re going to be making pretty much the same as you are now (because no, they can’t handle a raise) and only working 4 days a week, but as your team pointed out, those 4 days will be overworked trying to contain the same as your current 5. That’s not a privilege worth waiting for in my book. Just going straight by the numbers, it seems likely this company is dysfunctional enough that you could make 20% more salary elsewhere, i.e. same $ per day with 5 days a week not 4. And you could get that now without speculating!

  135. Delta Delta*

    I think it’s really easy for a lot of people outside the swarm of bees to say “just leave!” And maybe what you needed was a group of disinterested people to give you the nudge to get you to realize this isn’t a good fit anymore.

    I have also been in a weird work situation that made no sense, and where I realized things weren’t good but I felt sort of trapped. I’ll share what I learned: First, you have to decide that you’re leaving, if you’re going to choose to leave. Once you commit to the idea that you’re done, it makes it easier to sort of disentangle yourself from the weirdness and let yourself leave. Second, make it a priority to apply for and interview for different jobs. You’ve got the gift of the half day off every week – use it! Third, recognize that working in a weird place does weird things to your brain. It’ll take a little time for your brain to unwind the odd things that went on in your current job.

    If you decide to stay, then you do. It doesn’t seem like the situation is going to improve much, so you’d need to figure out how to exist within it and how not to let the weirdness bother you.

  136. Library Lady*

    An extra day or half a day off is not worth it, and will not solve the dysfunction in this company. It might feel like a reprieve at first but I think that will wear off very quickly and you’ll be left feeling trapped and burned out.

    Also, please remember that YOUR well being is more important than worrying what will happen to your staff if you leave. They are adults who are capable of deciding how they want to handle the stresses of this job, and you are not responsible for their decisions. Will it leave the business in a bind if you leave? Most definitely! But that’s what happens when you run a very poorly managed company, and they will have to make their own decisions.

    But nothing you have described sounds like it’s even remotely worth the stress of staying at this job.

  137. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Work four days, get paid for 5? That’s pretty much a 20% raise in your hourly rate. We see raises like that from people in the Friday good news column, people who have left a toxic underpaid environment. And you’d be getting that hourly rate for 5 days.
    My grandfather used to say “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” But I think in this case it’s more “don’t let the door slam on their fingers as they try to claw you back.”
    He was joking. I am (mostly) not. Good luck!

  138. blackcat lady*

    Every person submitting comments wants to see you hit two personal goals by the end of this year: #1 leave this place that is sucking the life force out of you for poor pay. #2 send in an update about your new job. We understand you have loyalty to your team but for the love of all that is holy you need to get out – like yesterday. And if you land in a good company that is hiring reach out to your team and poach them!

  139. ChemistryChick*

    OP do what’s best for YOU and your finances/mental health. The team you leave behind will be fine, whether that’s figuring out how to make it work where they are or finding their own new opportunities. I say this as someone on the flip side of your coin in that I was someone “left behind” by a long-time manager.

    You do not owe a dysfunctional company anything. Especially when you’ve already tried to make things better and got shot down. You’ve done your due diligence. And while you say April has told you you’re more valuable than June, how has that played out for you in tangible ways? You’re taking on more work and responsibilities that should be shared for less than June is making. That’s not fair to you and, coupled with everything else, is good enough reason to want better.

    1. Old-Lady*

      I would be looking for another job just because of this.

      Sooo, Boss says that you are worth more then this other person to the business.
      Boss says they are actually moving more of her work to you because you are better at it.
      Boss says that they are actually cutting her hours by rewarding her with weekly “Paid Time OFF” that you have to cover.
      Boss says that there is no money in the budget to give you a pay increase to cover the extra work or to hire extra help.
      Boss says that if you keep doing this, in 2 years you might get a half day off with pay a week as a reward.

      You dear are the mule.
      You working like you do, enables them to do what they do.
      Lincoln freed the slaves but not all were told about it.

  140. e271828*

    LW, April isn’t the only codependent in that menagerie. Your team is not you. For your own sake, you need to get out.

  141. Re'lar Fela*

    Run far, run fast. It’s not worth your stress. Working four days a week isn’t a perk if you’re spending the fifth day stressing about your finances, the dysfunction of the office, and the well-being of your team.

    1. Re'lar Fela*

      If you do decide to leave, I’d love to see you take the tactic used by another LW earlier this week–apply for one new job each time something dysfunctional happens and/or April/June get on your nerves. You’ll have a new job by the end of next week!

  142. Jules the 3rd*

    If you’re that important, is there any way you can see the company financials? You call the company ‘successful’ but if they can’t afford pay raises, they may not be as successful as you think.

    If the company’s putting all its profits into the owner’s pocket and not investing back into the employees, it’s going to crash and burn. You don’t want to be there for that.

  143. Stina*

    Your loyalty to your team is Awesome! The people I’ve worked with often kept me a job longer than I would’ve stayed for just the work.

    I think the best way to lead them is to help them find new employment: Get them hooked on AAM, show them local resources, and give them the free time needed for interviews. All while you’re beginning your job search.

  144. Pounce de Lion*

    I’ve been where you are. I even used the loyalty-to-the-team excuse to avoid the decision that I knew had to be made. Once I was out I realized that my confidence had been warped by all the goings-on, so I engaged the services of a life coach (a “joy coach” actually) to rebuild.

    I believe that by leaving I demonstrated to my team that it’s possible to get unstuck, and also to the crazy management that the status quo wasn’t sustainable. Did it work? I have no idea because I haven’t looked back!

  145. Christina*

    So the company absolutely CAN afford it, if they modified or got rid of the perk. I just did a little math for this using some dummy numbers.

    So let’s say you have three ppl in the same role with different levels of experience. They make the “same” salary but have different expectations of the time they will be putting in based on their time at the company.
    Kendall – $52,000 – 2 years – 2080 hrs/year – $25/hr effective rate – 1.0 FTE
    Roman – $52,000 – 5 years – 1872 hrs/year – $27.78/hr effective rate – 0.9 FTE
    Connor – $52,000 – 10 years – 1664 hrs/year – $31.25/hr effective rate- 0.8 FTE

    Replace the perk with a solid 2.50% COLA raise per year (not enough, but better than what some places offer).
    year hourly salary
    0 $25.00 $52,000
    1 $25.50 $53,040
    2 $26.01 $54,101
    3 $26.53 $55,183
    4 $27.06 $56,286
    5 $27.60 $57,412
    6 $28.15 $58,560
    7 $28.72 $59,732
    8 $29.29 $60,926
    9 $29.88 $62,145
    10 $30.47 $63,388

    So at 5 and 10 years, staff would have an actual hourly rate that they would have been effectively getting with the b.s. perk. YES, they will be paying those rates at a 1.0 FTE instead of a partial FTE, but increased availability of staff and the institutional knowledge/efficiencies of a trained and experience staff should be more than enough to drive up revenues to cover that difference.

    So they can do this, but they don’t want to because they would rather have this weird little fiefdom they can operate based on whims instead of sense. RUN!

  146. IrishMN*

    Oh my. LW, this doesn’t sound like a business that is likely to keep going under these circumstances, unless they do something very niche and expensive. It’s very poorly run. I also think it’s total crap that you are basically doing three jobs (yours, June’s, and even April’s) AND you’re getting paid less than either!
    Frankly this plan for 4.5 or 4 day weeks sounds like it wasn’t thought out at all, and isn’t feasible.
    It is not at all crazy to walk away. I would actually advise you to run.
    Best of luck.

  147. Olita*

    You are fungible. Seriously. It’s only because the company is dysfunctional that you feel that you owe someone (your staff?) something.

    Also, I am surprised that the owner’s name wasn’t August. ;)

  148. 2 Cents*

    OP, I understand how your admin group probably feels like people you need to stay and protect, but if any one of them were offered a better position with more pay / better benefits, they’d probably be waving at you from their rearview mirror. You are allowed to put your needs first. GET OUT! And then, when you’re in a new place, you can get some of the good ones you left behind into your new company.

  149. Badasslady*

    OP, your work place is dysfunctional, and you are a clearly unhappy. Find another job and leave. Your loyalty to your employees is clouding your judgment. The best thing you can do for everyone involved is to find another (better) job.

  150. Trombones Gigantes*

    Start looking for a new job ASAP. You don’t owe this company anything. Stop going above and beyond. Leave tasks undone. Send out your resume.

  151. Busters*

    I agree with all the “leave! Bees!” comments. But also – it just boggles my mind that companies would rather come up with convoluted “perks” like this one instead of just, I don’t know, paying people well or making the workplace functional.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Well, when it’s first proposed, it’s kinda nice – who wouldn’t want to keep their current salary but be able to cut 10 – 20% of their hours? It’s when you realize that you will not get a salary raise until the market catches up and you’re only being paid the part time rate that it gets to be a problem. Oh, that and when you can’t actually take the time off…

    2. IrishMN*

      I kind of wonder how much was that April wanted it for herself, saw her 10-year anniversary coming up, and decided to give it to June so it didn’t look so self-serving.

  152. Bob-White of the Glen*

    I agree that this company sounds like it’s in trouble and OP should run for the hills.

    But as an aside, I think a 32-hour work week will become more common and more desired as people evaluate both their work/life balance, and the reality of productivity. This isn’t true for all jobs, e.g. service desk jobs, but studies have shown (still valid? haven’t looked in a while) that less time at work can sometimes increase productivity. If you get more work from a focused 32 hours, why force 40? Of course, that means tighter meetings, less distractions, and probably less volunteering for filler tasks. :) But jobs of the future may very well be 4-day work weeks. (Am I being too optimistic?)

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Am I being too optimistic?

      Intuitively, I think slightly. The problem with going from 40 to 32 hour weeks is when people acclimate to 32 hour weeks and get used to it, and productivity returns to the 40 hour level prorated. I think the question that the research needs to address is how long it will take that to happen, and how to delay it.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        It sounds like you assume that is definitely going to happen. But there’s no research that suggests it will, to my knowledge. All current research shows that productivity per hour goes up when hours are reduced, and that the sweet spot for maximum hours before productivity begins to drop more than it’s worth is somewhere between 28-35.

        Do you have any evidence that this ceases after the employees get used to the new schedule? Or is it just a feeling?

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Do you have any evidence that this ceases after the employees get used to the new schedule? Or is it just a feeling?

          It’s basically a feeling, backed up anecdotally by what I’ve seen with raises where the motivating element declines over time.

  153. Hamburke*

    You are recognizing all of the hallmarks of your dysfunctional office but you’re feeling stuck. You like the benefit of 4.5/4 day work weeks but b/c you’re understaffed, you can’t actually take advantage of it fully (you work more hours or thru lunch or quickly but less efficiently to leave early on one day). You haven’t gotten a raise in years and you’d like to make more money but your boss hasn’t brought it up (no reason you can’t bring it up, but I think that you might know that it’s a-unlikely and b-not going to change the dynamic).

    I’d recommend that you find a therapist to help work thru why you feel so tied to this one job/one admin group and make decisions from there.

  154. Dezzi*

    Run far and fast! This company is going to implode at some point, and you don’t want to be there when it does.

  155. Wednesdays we eat chicken*

    Five days in a healthy, supportive, functional workplace beats four days in hell, in my opinion.

  156. CatMintCat*

    Leave. Now. Run far. Run fast.
    This situation won’t change – or at least not for the better. I’m not sure how they’ve got you so enmeshed in their dysfunction, but you need to worm your way out.

  157. Consuming all the tea*

    Life is short and you deserve to be happy – leave. I loved my last job and adored my colleagues but I was burning out – no work/life balance, dysfunctional work place, and no sense it would ever change. At the 10 year mark my manager sent me a job ad with the message ‘I don’t want to lose you but this is your dream job.’

    It took me a week to move past I CAN’T LEAVE. The deciding factor was realising that if I wasn’t going to apply for my dream job, I’d be at dysfunctional job forever. I applied and left. The last four years have been amazing. I’m a different person – calm, happy and enjoying new challenges. And the best part? One of my dearest friends from old job now works with me, and the manager who sent me the job ad also moved on to a much better company. No regrets.

  158. Working Hypothesis*

    LW, you are not responsible for the workload your staff is dealing with, or how dysfunctional your office is. You didn’t cause it, you cannot fix it, and the only thing that will happen if you remain there is that you, as well as anybody else who sticks around, will be sucked in and destroyed by it. What’s more, by modeling behavior which acts as though what April is doing is all right, you may be discouraging your employees from leaving… which they should consider doing for their own health also!!

    If you leave, you get out and you also signal to your team that it’s all right to get out. They may feel more comfortable looking for other work themselves that way.

    But that’s the best you can do for them. Give up on trying to fix what you can’t fix, and do it.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Came to say the same. The nice thing for the admin group is when the manager leaves and says, “sorry guys, this place is full of bees” she gives permission for everyone to go, “Yeah, BEES! I was thinking bees, but you seemed chill with it so…”


  159. Dennis Feinstein*

    ” … but I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed.”
    You sound like a great employee OP, but no one is irreplaceable. What would your company do if you got hit by a bus tomorrow? Not your problem. They’d just have to figure it out.
    Same deal if you get another job. And, as others have observed, it might be the impetus your co-workers need to get out as well + you might be in a position to hire some of them.
    Good luck!

  160. Beth*

    Let me see if I have this straight. You are working in a job where you and your team are overworked; your pay has plateaued; you’re underpaid for your area; you are paid less than another colleague in the same role, while being told that you’re better at that role and in fact essential to the business; you’re being offered a perk that you and your team can’t really take advantage of because there’s no plan to cover the workload if you do; you’ve been told that the company doesn’t have enough money to give substantial raises; and your higher-up would rather spend her work hours planning personal vacations with the owner than addressing any of these problems. Did I miss anything?

    Just get out. This is massively dysfunctional. You sticking around will just make you miserable, without actually helping your admin team in any long-term way.

  161. Slow Gin Lizz*

    There was a recent LW who wrote that they were working 9 days over 2 weeks with one Fri off every 2 weeks and they did not like it at all, because they ended up doing *all* their errands on that “day off” and so it really wasn’t a day off at all. So that’s one point to consider.

    The other point I have is that my most recent former job gave us summer Fridays, wherein the office closed at 1 on Fri in July and Aug and I considered it a big perk. But the fact that there wasn’t a lot for me to do at that company had me looking for work and I started a new job this past spring. I worried briefly that I’d miss summer Fridays a lot and it wasn’t until this Sept that I realized I didn’t even notice their absence, because my new job was astronomically better than my old job, I’m learning a lot of new skills, and I’m doing a lot of tasks that feel useful to me and to the org. My point is that you might not even notice this missing “perk” if you are working somewhere that isn’t, as other commenters said, full of bees.

    Go ahead and get a new job, LW! I wouldn’t worry that you are abandoning your team when you leave; they can also leave at their own choosing when they find new jobs.

  162. Jules*

    I will bet you $5 that this “work 4/get paid for 5” perk will mysteriously disappear right around you 9 year, 11 month mark. They’ve already proven that they’re willing to change the perks around to whatever suits April and June best. And having you working less will definitely not suit April and June, since it sounds like you are the only one doing any actual management around there. Get out now, while you still have some fondness for the place. Don’t wait until all that is left is resentment.

  163. Workfromhome*

    “but I won’t leave my admin group, especially while we’re so understaffed”

    This is the cry of a dysfunctional and toxic work environment. Leave and leave now.
    Have you asked your admin team “I’m really miserable and I have a better job offer. Do you guys want me stay here with you and be miserable?” Most normal people will say “go be happy”. If they all say no we want you to stay and be miserable its obvious they dont care about you and you dont owe them anything.

    Staying only benefits others and does nothing for you. This place is a zoo

  164. the cat's ass*

    I so feel this. My previous ‘but we’re faaaaaaamily’ small dysfunctional job waved this sort of carrot around and i was hanging on to get to the 5 year mark for a month’s vacation. I was also grossly underpaid. In the end, I bailed at 4.5 years, because i just couldn’t stand it for another second. I negotiated a month off going in to the new job and also got hired at market rate (a 20K bump). GO, OP!!! Find a new job where you are respected and paid what you’re worth, and negotiate the rest! It might galvanize your team, too. Good luck!

  165. wine dude*

    I haven’t read every comment and hope this has already been said – but just in case: when you do hand in your notice, you should expect to be offered both the “4 day week” and a raise to stay on.

    Please don’t fall for it.

  166. It's Me*

    I might also advise you to consider whether you’ll always be expected to get 5 days’ worth of work done in 4 days, given how everything else at the company is going.

Comments are closed.